The transmission of knowledge, skills, cultural heritage and ideals are essential to any citizenry and therefore should be taught in our schools. By giving students problem-solving skills and opportunities, we are preparing them for a future in society. The study of music in a quality music program can greatly benefit the achievement of these goals. As a form of expression that is ubiquitous across all cultures, music making can be a valuable experience to help prepare our youth to be productive and independent members of society. Furthermore, it is one of the few activities that simultaneously involves the encoding, storage, and retrieval portions of the brain and it provides students the opportunity for personal exploration, self-expression, self-healing, and most importantly, personal joy.
I believe that students should receive a broad range of musical experiences, offering both performing and non-performing opportunities with the former including solo, chamber, and a variety of large ensemble experiences. Like Bennett Reimer suggests, I do believe that the act of listening is an essential mode of the musical experience and one that all people share. However, as David Elliott inculcates in Music Matters (1995), “the best preparation for listening to musical performances in the future is full participation of music making in the present.” To that end, I feel that instruction should be centered around performing and students should be encouraged to play beautifully and expressively from day one. Each and every one of us are expressive creatures long before we ever came to music. So, I believe it is our responsibility as educators to connect the known to the unknown and build upon our innate expressive abilities.
I believe that students who want to pursue music education as a vocation need to invest the time and energy into becoming skilled and sensitive musicians themselves. In addition, they need to seek out many different types of performance and teaching opportunities as well as becoming knowledgeable in the academic studies within music. Knowledge of history, form, theory, and performance practice will not only enhance their skills as educators, but give them a greater appreciation of music as an art form. I also believe that students pursuing a career in music should invest themselves in all forms of art to provide a more enriched view of the world around them that they may imbue on their future students. Most importantly, I believe that future music educators should be inquisitive and dedicated to a life of learning and public service.
In closing, a well-educated student is a student who is educated musically. In Howard Gardner’s study of multiple intelligences, music is identified as one of the subjects of significance. Every child deserves the opportunity to experience a quality music curriculum that is rigorous, diverse, and taught by a highly skilled music educator. While this is easier said than done, it is worth the investment in our students and our society’s future.