General Music Education Principles
My general philosophy about music education is based in the idea that music and an education in music should be accessible to all students. Music is a part of our cultural identity as humans, and therefore it is something that we should all have access to. I also find great importance in the fact that music has its own body of knowledge and set of skills that the students learn, and that it helps students develop emotionally and cognitively.
There are several elements of knowledge and specific skills that students learn from participating in music activities in school. Music is a subject all of its own that has its own body of knowledge and set of skills, just as any other subject. First and foremost, our students learn how to read music. In doing this the students are learning how to read, write, and express in a unique language all of its own. Music notation is a separate language that students develop an understanding of from participating in music activities. Additionally, students learn basic composition and improvisation through organic and natural means that is unique to them as their creation. Students also learn historical facts pertaining to music and how various different events throughout history have affected music in different ways.
In addition to this body of knowledge and these specific skills, students also learn several attitudes and behaviors through participation in musical activity that help them in various aspects in life. Students learn how to express their thoughts and emotions through music. They do this in several ways. When students participate in musical experiences they learn how to put their own unique impression on the music and how to express themselves through this. In addition, when students create music through composition or improvisation they learn how to express themselves through music. This is something all their own, and it can completely represent them and their thoughts. Students also learn how to make connections between music that they listen to or participate in and their own lives. This helps them connect to music on a deeper level and helps them use music to better understand how to interpret their feelings and thoughts. Participation in musical activities also provides students with the resources and means to learn how to use music as a form of stress management and as a coping mechanism.
One of my favorite things about general music is that it is provided for all elementary schools in most districts, making music accessible to all students. There is much more accessibility to music for children in a school setting than through other settings because all children are in schools. General music aligns perfectly with my basic philosophy about music education that it should be accessible to everyone. As I have learned more about general music I have developed a great respect and love for general music because of this, and I really enjoy teaching general music because I can reach out to more children and expose them to music. It makes for a challenge to find ways to help all the students connect to music and find it meaningful in their own ways, but that rewards of doing it make it very much worthwhile.