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Topic: What Every Music Teacher Wants You To Know
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 13,616
Registered: 12/3/04
What Every Music Teacher Wants You To Know
Posted: Aug 11, 2013 2:32 PM
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From Facetious Firecracker, Saturday, July 6,
2013. See
http://facetiousfirecracker.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/what-every-music-teacher-wants-you-to-know/
*******************************
What Every Music Teacher Wants You To Know

There are some stereotypes about music teachers
in this country and for some reason, they've been
getting to me lately. Generally, I avoid
discussing my career on here because honestly, I
have a great job. I get to play games, teach kids
how to create music, and I get most of the
summers off. You won't hear me complaining about
the pay (except in jest) and frankly, there
aren't many music jobs out there. My district has
brand new, state of the art buildings with SMART
boards in every room. I am NOT intending to write
this post about my specific job, just the general
problems that any music teacher can appreciate.
Now, with that being said, here I goŠ.

1. We get really tired of people thinking that
our job is nothing but fun and games.

PHOTO SIDEBAR: Nope. No work was required to get
to this point. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was once asked, "Are you a real teacher or just
a music teacher?" Questions like that make my
blood boil. Obviously, I can't get the entire
world to see it my way, but as far as I'm
concerned, I'm a teacher. My subject happens to
be music. I say that in the same way that someone
would say they teach high school biology. Music
is defined as a core academic subject in No Child
Left Behind. Music has National and State
Academic Content Standards, just as any other
subject. It is my job to make sure that my
students master the material. I just have about
22 hours of instruction time per school year to
make that happen.

2. The general public thinks that they know
everything about what I do, and that anyone can
do it.

PHOTO SIDEBAR: I played guitar in a band in high
school! What do you mean I can't teach band
better than you?

Every nincompoop who has ever touched a drum
tells me they can "play" the drums. Now, some of
these people actually can. I am totally not a
music snob and I understand there's a huge
difference between being a talented amateur
musician and someone who just beats on things.
However, unless you have a music degree, don't
pretend like you could do my job. It's not common
knowledge and there's way more to it than you
think. Unless you have had to be tested on
everything from music history, educational
psychology, your performance of a concerto for an
audience of highly trained professionals,
memorization of fingerings for the bassoon (and
every other instrument), etc., don't tell me you
could do my job.

3. We have to constantly remind people why what
we do is important, for fear of losing our
programs.

PHOTO SIDEBAR: This is what happened to the last
guy who threatened to cut music.

I'd say most music teachers live in constant fear
that we're going to lose our jobs. We fear it not
just for ourselves, but for our students. After
all, who do you think inspired us to teach music?
That's right - our music teachers. Without music
programs in schools, we risk losing part of our
culture for the future. When we examine past
cultures, what do we use to judge how civilized
they were? Paintings, musical
compositions, architecture, tools, language, and
clothing. In other words - ART. In fact, we use
the fine arts of past cultures to judge how much
they knew about our current so-called "core
subjects."

Do you think people in the future are going to
look at our standardized test scores to see how
well we lived? Of course not. They're going to
study our ability to create ART.

And along the same linesŠ.

4. We really hate using other subject areas to justify our subject.

PHOTO SIDEBAR: If one more person mentions the "Mozart Effect" I'll scream!

Yes, it's totally true that instruction in music
helps people to understand math and science
better. It raises college entrance test scores.
It forms new synapses in the brain, connecting
the two hemispheres better than any other subject
can. In fact, stroke patients who are no longer
able to speak can sometimes still sing songs and
use that for speech therapy. So yeah, I guess you
should learn music because it makes you smarter.

ButŠ

Music teachers are so tired of using that spiel
in order to defend what we do. We didn't go into
teaching music because we wanted to get better at
math. We want what we do to be valued for its own
purpose. We want people to think it's important
to have music in schools, well, just because it
is! Imagine your life without music.

Silent commercials and movies, with the exception
of dialogue. Awkward silences while shopping.
Silent car rides. All in all, pretty boring. We
teach music because it's like painting for your
ears. It expresses emotions. It can even change
your emotions.

5. People think that you can't test what we
teach, and that every student should be given an
A.

PHOTO SIDEBAR: Brian was devastated that his
daughter didn't pass choir. After all, she sang
during at least half of the days she was there.

Music teachers are data-driven teachers who use
research and self-reflection to constantly assess
the effectiveness of their instruction and to
improve their teaching methods, just as any other
teacher does. Yes, you can give a test on how
well little Johnny plays the trumpet. The notes
are either right or wrong, in tune or not, played
for the correct duration or not, and so on. Using
a rubric, it is possible to assign fair grades to
students based upon performances and written
tests that are based upon facts taught during
class. No, your child should not be given an
automatic A in a performance-based class. Grades
are earned based on your child's demonstration
that he or she has mastered the skills taught in
class, which are based upon the academic content
standards in music.

6. We really do love our jobs - and our students!

PHOTO SIDEBAR: We love our jobs and our students - thumbs up.

We mean it. We are some of the only teachers who
literally get to watch our students grow up.
Music teachers usually have their students for
multiple consecutive years and form great bonds
with them. Our jobs are super fun and best of
all, we get to do what we love every day - make
music.

******************************************
--
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244
E-mail: jbecker@siu.edu



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