Book Review

I read Musician & Teacher: An Orientation to Music Education which was written by Patricia Campbell.  The following blog post will be a summary/discussion on the features of this book which I found most interesting and relevant.

The book “is intended as an introduction to the field for university students who are either declared music education majors, or are considering professional certification as music teachers….”  And this intent is obvious throughout the book, being reinforced in various ways.

There were a couple factors about this book I liked quite a bit.  First, each chapter begin with a cheesy little excerpt from a music class usually involving a student and either a second student or a music teacher.  They would discuss some feature about teaching, or something they did or did not like about class that day.  Although the blurbs were obviously not real, they were still an amusing read introducing the subject of the chapter.

The book stated many times that teaching music is not a “fall-back” career if a musician fails at performing.  Campbell states many points which lead the reader to understand teaching is actually more complicated than performing, though it is somewhat of a performance by itself.  She includes a checklist of what makes a “good” music teacher on page 12 and 13.  Campbell also goes into a bit of history with a introduction to the philosophies behind teaching music.

Another excellent point Campbell makes is that music should never be used as a punishment.  Do not have students practice “extra” when they do not pass off a scale, or have them continue working on a solo piece if they did not perform it as well as they could have.  Find another way to encourage your students to practice, otherwise they will relate being punished to practicing/participating in a large ensemble, and will most likely cease to develop their musicality.

Finally, Campbell gives the reader a few questions to ponder.  Why do we teach?  Why did we choose the instrument we currently play?  These answers will vary from teacher to teacher, but ultimately the answers are important.  They help us understand and vocalize why we chose to become what we are today.

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Elementary Lesson

We taught a lesson on Timbre for Sherry Stahl’s third grade class.

1.  What do you think was the favorite part of your lesson for the class?

I liked it all; the kids were great.  Bu they seemed to like the game we played best since it allowed them to wiggle around.

2.  What is one thing you would do differently if you taught the lesson again?

If I taught this same group of kids again, I’d bring more instruments for examples, and maybe let them play some of them.  But that may end up being too involved for just two people, which is part of why we didn’t do it this time.  Also, I’d come up with a song or something to extend the lesson, since it was a bit shorter than the full fifty minute class period.

Attached is lesson plan used:

TimbreLessonElem

MEJ Articles, September 2014

FIRST ARTICLE

Angeline, V. R. (2014). Motivation, professional development, and the experienced music teacher. Music Educator’s Journal, 101 (1), 50-55

Synopsis: The article “Motivation, Professional Development, and the Experienced Music Teacher” by Vincent Angeline (Sept 2014) argues that a lack of professional development impacts larger aspects of your life than just teaching in the classroom.  It gives ideas to combat the lack of motivation by becoming more involved in the classroom, and to engage in professional development.  Given the technical terminology used in the article, Angeline is writing to experienced teachers and school administrators.

Reaction:

  • A lack of professional development will affect a larger section of personal life than previously believed.
  • Any type of personal development, either reading or picking up a new hobby, can have unforeseen benefits in professional life, though the two may seem unconnected.
  • In order to maintain interest in a long-time job, one must constantly strive to improve oneself as a teacher, musician, and citizen. Doing so will improve self-image, and improve job morale, as well as effectiveness.

Follow-up: Although I already understood maintaining a high level of musicianship and professionalism after graduation were important, this article highlighted the importance in my mind. In addition, the article reinforced that improving self-image and musicianship will raise morale, and in turn, that raise in morale will transfer to the students. Also the article made a good point, in that musicians are not musicians to play perfectly, but rather because we love what we do, and playing an instrument, or teaching, professionally causes us to always strive to do better.

Quotations:

“To be autonomous, one must act as a result of free choice and for the sheer enjoyment and pleasure inherent in the activity.” (52-53)

“The tasks to which they are dedicated seem to be interpretable as embodiments or incarnations of intrinsic values (rather than as a means to ends outside the work itself, and rather than as functionally autonomous) BECAUSE they embody these values. That is, ultimately it is the values that are loved rather than the job as such.” (54)

 SECOND ARTICLE

Hendricks K. S. (2014).Creating safe spaces for music learning. Music Educator’s Journal, 101 (1), 35-40

Synopsis: The article “Creating Safe Spaces for Music Learning” by Karin Hendricks (Sept 2014) discusses students, and the perhaps unintentionally instilled fear of inadequate musical performance, and explains that this is almost an epidemic in music studios in this age. However, the article goes on to give five bold points, and many sub-points on methods to combat this fear of music, and instill in students a high level of self-worth and love of music.   Given the examples and references used, Hendricks is writing to a freelance music teacher as well as a classically trained music teacher.

Reaction:

  • Competitions, although useful for encouraging some students to improve musically, can cause others to lose their love of music entirely, and it is extremely important to treat each student individually, and not as a generic group.
  • Over ¼ young music students have a clinically relevant level of music performance anxiety, and 70% of adult orchestral musicians report anxiety levels high enough to affect performances.
  • Critique the music, not the student.

Follow-up: Apparently few musicians do not have performance anxiety, and more than a few individuals have been “turned away” and begun to hate music because a teacher’s teaching methods, or off-hand remark. This, although commonly seen across the spectrum of music studios, should not be acceptable. Teachers should not instill a fear of music in their students, as this defeats the effect of the music itself, and takes the enjoyment out of listening and playing, as well as causing some students to believe they are “not musically gifted.”

Quotations:

“Intrinsic motivation can be fostered by teachers who do not view musical ability as a fixed skill but allow students to develop their ability level through their own efforts.” (36)

“The challenges of competition can be stimulation and enjoyable. But when beating the opponent takes precedence in the mind over performing as well as possible, enjoyment tends to disappear. Competition is enjoyable only when it is a means to perfect one’s skills; when it becomes an end in itself, it ceases to be fun.” (37)

“The practice of creating a safe space for our students begins by creating a safe space inside ourselves, one in which we are able to openly reflect on any present teaching practices that may not be beneficial or effective.” (39)

AngelinePrecis

HendricksPrecis