For my intro to music education class, we had to write a final paper on our teaching philosophy and teaching goals. Here is mine!
The Teacher I’d Like to Become
Success as a music teacher and success for my students is defined by both personal break through and musical break though. I think that one cannot completely come without the other. Dr. Perkins told my music education class, “You have to think about if you want to be the maestro, or the missionary.” My initial response to this question was, “Missionary! Of course!” However, now I think maybe I can squeeze in a little bit of both. The maestro that has great musical expectations has them because he or she knows what excellent musicianship can cause in students. Most of the true reasons I want to teach music are not just musical. Most of the reasons I want to teach have to do with positive personal and emotional development that participating in music can cause. Music gives students a reason to have pride and confidence and provides a place of expression, peace, and solace. Music develops interpersonal skills, gives students a common ground that is special. It can tear down social and personal barriers. It provides a community of different types of people. On top of all of this wonderful development, it is just plain fun. All of these are wonderful things about music education and this is part of the success that can be found in it. I will see success in my students’ lives as they gain confidence through practice. I will see success as they use music to communicate with other people and understand other people’s viewpoints. All of these things are part of the ultimate success, but cannot occur without absolutely wonderful musicianship.
When the musicianship is at its highest level, the music can convey its purpose to a fuller effect. The music is the basis for the personal and communal break throughs that happen in music education and when the music can come closest to conveying its purpose, then the students will have the best experiences with others. That purpose may just be to learn what a half note is, or it may be to express a feeling of loss. Whatever the level, excellence in their music study is a huge part of the success. I would not just be happy saying that my students tried and they made friends and had fun even though the music was not good. I want them to truly learn something about music, to gain a better level of musicianship than when they began, and hopefully obtain a level that is higher than they even thought they could attain. No, they may not be playing amazing complicated repertoire. That is not the point, but if the level of music is strong, then the personal experiences can be strong. This successful point of musicianship makes students understand something about themselves or others that they had not understood before. It opens the way for all the personal success.
I want to teach in a way that helps my students be independently thinking musicians. I thought about what I liked in how my choir directors taught. They used practical methods of getting students to understand musicianship. Especially once we got to varsity choir. They would ask “how do you think this should be phrased?” or would have some students come and conduct how they thought it should be phrased. They rarely, if ever said, “Sing it like this!” They asked questions and gave students independence, yet guided independence. They respected us as young musicians and encouraged us to gain the ability to make musical choices. I think that good teachers tend to ask really good questions. Helping students become independent musical thinkers has a lot to do with the kinds of questions that are asked.
Most of the reasons I want to teach music are extra- musical. I truly think that my music teachers helped me become a better person in ways that some of my other teachers could not. Part of the way they did this was they shared their lives with us. They shared their experiences that the music sometimes reflected. They asked us to share our experiences. They worked to have us truly understand what we sang so we could perform it to its fullest effect, but also so that we could consider aspects of humanity and aspects of our own feelings that are in music. They were not closed off to their personal experiences and often shared in struggles. Sharing their lives with us and thinking about the feelings and experiences that the music evoked made us engage better musicianship and understand why we were singing. Music is deeply personal, and I think if a teacher shares personal experiences with their students and encourages them to consider their own personal experiences, they can understand the beauty in music. Being a personal teacher helps create a personal community, and this give music a way to have its full effect.
The teacher I’d like to become has a high standard for music, yet believes that music has the power to teach students the most important skills in life. She believes music can teach students deeply beneficial and beautiful skills such as critical thinking, personal evaluation, and interpersonal skills. She wants to be mostly a missionary, yet have the skill to be a maestro. The teacher I’d like to become shares her life fully with others so that music can fulfill its greatest purposes.