The Star Spangled Banner is arguably the most controversial song in the repertoire of songs for American music education. While American music educators nearly universally agree that, as the national anthem of the United States, it should be taught to American children, the pitch range, spanning an octave and a fifth, puts it out of … Continue reading The Star Spangled Banner and Young Singers
One of the fascinating things about music history is how people have gradually over the centuries changed in how dissonance is regarded. From the position that all dissonance was bad and even evil, to the twentieth century view that dissonance can be beautiful, we have accepted and embraced more and more dissonance in our art … Continue reading Varieties of Musical Dissonance
A casual survey of so-called music theory books used by piano and violin teachers reveals that music theory is frequently understood to be the body of knowledge needed to read music. When students using these materials “learn music theory,” they are asked to name notes and chords, identify and define symbols such as key and … Continue reading What Is Music Theory and How Does It Fit Into Music Education?
Today, I have two things on my mind. One is that while every child is entitled to a music education, no one is entitled to success; that has to be earned. I am a strong believer in the principle that the less one has to work for something, the less it will be valued. The … Continue reading Teaching Music Reading to Very Young Children
I am all for assessing student singing, but for some time I have struggled to find a way to assess that did not take up an unreasonable amount of time. I have tended to favor informal methods, where I walk up to individual students while they are singing with the rest of the class, listen … Continue reading Producing Assessable Student Work in Music Performance
Regardless of how successful a private music lesson is, a large measure of the student’s eventual success depends on regular and effective practice at home. Often, attention is given to how to get students to practice more, but not enough attention is given to what students should be doing when they are practicing. I have … Continue reading How Can Students’ Practice Be Improved?
One of the reasons teaching music reading and writing is so challenging for students and music teachers is that music is not used nearly as often as a basis for thought and actions. Every action begins with a thought, and thoughts are generally pictures or words; images or descriptions. Music for most people is something … Continue reading Thinking In Music is the Key to Music Literacy
School is a social environment. Learning takes place in classes where groups of children are gathered, usually 20-25 at a time. When everything is going smoothly, students are listening to a teacher and to each other, are asking and answering questions, responding to prompts, understanding what is being said or done, and keeping their attention … Continue reading What Does Music Have To Do With Social Development?
In our well-tempered musical culture, all musical keys tend to sound the same, except for being higher or lower. Yet throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, composers enjoyed the rich and expressive variety in the way different keys sounded. Rousseau described D major as being suited for “gaiety or brilliance,” Schumann spoke of C major … Continue reading A Tale of Two Temperings
When planning a concert, there are many more things to keep in mind than just the date, time, place, and what pieces will be programmed. While these certainly need to be set, without first establishing why we give concerts with our students, and what we hope to accomplish by doing so, programming and scheduling issues … Continue reading What To Consider When Planning A School Concert