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End of Year Reflection: 2016-2017

I have thoroughly enjoyed the wide range of topics and projects I have worked on

this semester. Reviewing my work has reminded me of how much material we have

covered as a class, and how much I have grown as a future educator. I have appreciated

the collaborative nature of this course and the hands-on approach, because both of these

aspects are directly related to our future careers in working with people to create music.

Music became important to me in grade school because it filled a need. My

childhood was filled with trials, and while I acknowledge I am not unique to family

drama, or to enduring situations children should never experience, these difficulties made

music immensely more important to me. It provided me with a support system and an

outlet of expression that I desperately needed. Music is stable. Music is dependable.

Music gives back to you what you invest into it. I needed music, and over time it has

brought me opportunities, and provided me with a family of friends.

Music Education is has always been very personal to me, and student centered

because of my past. The work I have done this semester has not changed my

philosophies, but it has strengthened them by provided me with dozens of new tools to

use. Everything I got out of music came from the traditional concert band set up, but

acknowledging that this structure is not for everyone, questioning why the rigid model

exists, and realizing that I can use a different approach, will make my program more

inclusive and valuable to a broader audience of people.

I am excited to challenge the traditional music molds by offering real

opportunities to create. Too many music educators focus on teaching their students to

read music well, and direct them to execute their musical decisions without explaining
why, or allowing students the opportunity to make their own musical decisions. They

focus on how they can make the concert sound as good as possible in the limited amount

of time they have. Whether the teachers want superior rating to valid themselves, for the

benefit of making the school look good, or because they assume all students care about

executing their best product, this is a teacher centered approach that makes the students

bystanders in their own education.

While I am young and filled with energy and excitement for trying new things, I

have to acknowledge that I will probably meet resistance somewhere while I attempt to

carry out my good intentions. Whether this resistance is from administration, or students

themselves because they have grown accustom to showing up and playing sheet music, I

need to strategize on how to deal with this resistance. I need to advocate for my

developing model of music education, and create a long-term plan that patiently reaches

my goal. Change takes time, and adhering to normalitys while ever so slightly making

adjustments will mask my change, and hopefully make it less threatening, and hit with

less resistance.

James Madison University offers many music application courses and opinions

on how to teach music, so it is easy to get districted by curriculum ideas and forget that

our job is to work with people. I am glad we took the time to sidestepped away from

music for an assignment and research theorists, and study learning and developmental

theories. Knowing that age impacts what people care about modifies some of my ideas. I

can reach more students in a more effective way now that I have an understanding for

what people are going through developmentally at certain ages. If I am working with 3 to

5 year olds I need to provide opportunities for them to take initiative to build their
confidence. If I am working with 5 to 12 year olds I need to be aware that they highly

value approval from their peers, so I need to avoid public playing tests because they

would cause an unnecessary amount of stress. I remain interested in putting the students

human needs first, but now I have a greater awareness of what different age groups care

about so I can modify how I approach my musical goals, and in some cases modify my

musical goals to better fit the needs of my students and what they prioritize.

I enjoyed reading Randall Allsups Remixing the Classroom because it made me

aware of how rigid our current accepted musical practices are. I think it is okay for music

educators to support the traditional model, but I think it is important that they first

acknowledge it is a choice. Too many people blindly accept the traditional model

because it is all they know, and they have never questioned why it exists, or whether or

not they value the system and want to keep it. I was one of these people, and am thankful

Allsup, and the presenters in the talk Whats Going on in this Classroom? opened my

eyes to alternative options.

I am eager to change some of the rehearsal practices we as a class have

challenged. If I work at a middle or high school, I want to offer general music. While I

was excited to learn flute when band was initially offered, there are qualities and

freedoms that are unique to general music that I miss. Who decided students must restrict

themselves to one instrument if they want to continue taking music after elementary

school? It is very apparent that more than just band/orchestra/chorus kids enjoy music.

People are constantly playing music in their cars, or on their phones. I understand that a

music appreciation high school class modeled after an elementary general music class

does not prepare students for a specific career, but most of the classes high school
students take simply give them knowledge and skills to make them better members of

society. A high school music appreciation class can fit that goal.

One of my most important takeaways from this class is to ask more questions.

Why are things the way they are, and do I agree with them? Music classrooms might

come with podiums, and chairs, and stands, but it is my choice to use them. Most

importantly, I now know it is my choice to use them. Choosing whether or not to use

these tools gives me more variables to play with as I work to reach my goals for what I

want my students to learn.

I am committed to being a life-long learner: To be the best I can be for my

students I need to continue to challenge myself by reading new material, and

obtaining new skills while strengthening developed ones. Doing so will keep me

focused on the big picture, and keep me motivated to create with my students.
I am committed to putting my students needs ahead of my curriculum

agenda: Students are human first. Their basic needs must be met before they can

focus on quarter notes. I need to constantly adapt to meet them where they are

whether that is a physical/technical skill level, or mental readiness based on stress,

or deprivation from a lack of sleep or resources.

I am committed to teaching the whole person: People are a product of their

experiences. I need to know what motivates and triggers each student, who has an

IEP, who prioritizes sports (or any other interest) over music, and be mindful that

students are going through stressors that will affect their ability to focus in my

classroom. I do not get to pick which aspects of the student I want to work with.
I need to recognize who they are, and respect what they are interested in gaining

from my class.
I am committed to helping everyone learn music: In teaching students with

disabilities I will provide them with the least restricting environment, and adapt

music and instruments to meet their needs. Music is for everyone regardless of

ability, age, or background. No matter who they are or where they come from,

my classroom will be a welcoming environment.

I am committed to living by my definition of excellence: The most important

thing is a persons health. Music offers unique opportunities to cope with stress

and emotions, and I believe it is important to lead students to this discovery. It is

more important to me that people get something out of music, than for them to

play all of the right notes. If students are feeling music I have succeeded.
I am committed to teaching my students that failure is a dynamic of growth:

If everything is a success, I would argue you have never challenged yourself to

step outside your comfort zone. Growth happens when we push ourselves, and

one of my responsibilities is to show students how far their abilities stretch, and

how much they can accomplish. However, as I push this boundary not every

project will work, and that is okay.

I am committed to challenging students: When students are too relaxed they

get bored and lose interest. The goal is to create a safe environment where

students are comfortable exploring their limits. I will do this by breaking the

normalitys of traditional band, and demonstrate to my students that there is

always more.
I am committed to doing everything with my students: I will never ask my

students to do something I have not done myself. When we try new things, we
will try them together. I will present an example, and support them in finding

their own version of the product.

I am committed to fostering creativity: In English class if someone is reading

we would not say they are creating. Why do people consider music to be any

different? I will not be eager to inflict my musical ideas on to my students. I will

encourage them to have their own opinions, and create side projects whether that

is writing music, improvising, or creating a dance or visual component. Not

everything will be performed in a concert, but exploring alternative ways to

express an idea will strengthen the final product.

I am committed to making my music classes educational and worthwhile:

There are basic musical concepts and goals that need to be met, but you can

achieve nonmusical goals in the process. I want to provide my students with

memories and skills that will help them excel in life. Through working with

others, and pushing their ranges of abilities, I hope they will continue to motivate

themselves and seek comfort in music for the rest of their lives.