A Multi-sensory Approach to Teaching Music

I’d like to start today by making two observations about learning. First, learning is a life-long process. Second, learning is multi-sensory. These two observations are related, and highly relevant to music education. Let me explain why. Learning is not restricted to what students do while they are in a classroom in school. We humans begin … Continue reading A Multi-sensory Approach to Teaching Music

Reflections On Attending A Live Performance With Students

As I write today's post, I have just returned from a trip to the New Haven Ballet's production of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. This is a trip I have been taking with my fifth graders for several years now. Some look forward to the trip, some are skeptical about seeing ballet, and a few are sure they … Continue reading Reflections On Attending A Live Performance With Students

Reflections on a New School Year

As the new school year begins, it seems fitting to call to mind the things teachers do to get themselves and their students off to a good start. Students need five things from teachers to succeed in school, and they are never more receptive to them than at the beginning of the year. Those five … Continue reading Reflections on a New School Year

A Conductor’s Guide to Percussion: Timpani Methods

When it comes to directing instrumental music ensembles, the teacher is expected to have at least a working knowledge of every instrument that is being played. In schools, instrumental music teachers generally have taken instrument methods classes as part of their teacher preparation program, and there have learned how each instrument is played, and gained … Continue reading A Conductor’s Guide to Percussion: Timpani Methods

What Can L.A. and Math Teachers Learn from Music Teachers About Practice?

It is always good to read that researchers have found ways in which music benefits brain development, spatial reasoning, language acquisition, and other areas of learning. Such studies have often been sited by music education advocates in defense of maintaining or even expanding music programs in schools. Work has also been done on integrating common … Continue reading What Can L.A. and Math Teachers Learn from Music Teachers About Practice?

Why Do Students Need Teachers?

As I watched this afternoon’s Sprint Cup race from Pocono Speedway, I saw an advertisement for a web site parents could visit where certified teachers deliver course content for free. Children can use the site lieu of attending a traditional public school. It reminded me of a conversation that has been taking place on social … Continue reading Why Do Students Need Teachers?

How Much Music Reading Instruction is Enough?

Recently, I observed that music reading has received minimal attention in the new NCCAS music standards. To be sure, music reading is not necessary for every musical experience. From a global perspective, our Western music notation is not used at all in many places, especially where music culture is preserved within an oral tradition. In … Continue reading How Much Music Reading Instruction is Enough?

Creative Thinking in Music Classes

Among the many reasons for a person and a culture to have music is that making music is a creative enterprise, and creative thinking helps us cope with life, solve problems, and make things that we can enjoy and benefit from. At the very heart of creative activity is the act of making something. Indeed, … Continue reading Creative Thinking in Music Classes

On Teaching Music Composition in General Music Classes

Although most music educators have solid training in vocal and instrumental techniques, expertise in teaching music composition is less common. There are, I suspect, fewer music teachers who are composers than instrumental or vocal specialists. Even so, music composition is an important part of musicianship, the development of which is at the heart of music curricula … Continue reading On Teaching Music Composition in General Music Classes

Teach Music to Thinkers, Not Jars

Our basic philosophy of teaching and learning has changed quite a bit in the last thirty years. I remember in the 1980s a social studies teacher had a sign on his classroom door on which was written “free knowledge, bring your own container.” This represented what then was the prevalent view of education. Students were … Continue reading Teach Music to Thinkers, Not Jars