Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

A Creative (and Critical) Pedagogy

Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

A Creative (and Critical) Pedagogy

Article excerpt

In the summer most of us a have a break from the day-to-day intensity of teaching music. A lot of us take some time to reflect on the past year and prepare for the next one. Often lack of time, along with ingrained philosophies, repertoire choice, and "tried, tested, and true" methods stop us from critically reflecting during the school year. It is summer while I write and I'm taking some time to reflect on my work with programs and teachers over this last year.

In workshops and courses with educators I am often asked to suggest a pedagogy or sequence of teaching music. I often shy away from recommending certain books or methods as a universal fit. Recently I have started providing a list of often used creative games and exercises, but I do not think these games and exercises (or any one method) are themselves going to inject creativity and empowerment into the classroom. Music education needs more than a shift in method to become a place where students and teachers explore the sounds of their environment, explore their own creativity, and build community. I do understand why teachers might ask for this list and I am beginning to understand that having a framework can aid in reflection and discussion.

For this entry I want to suggest a possible framework for critically reflecting (creatively) on music education. This comes out of discussions in courses, workshops, and with other music educators as well as my experiences teaching in public schools and in universities.

* Knowing oneself as a creative and enthusiastic music maker. We sometimes need to take a moment to remember what it is we love about music and remind ourselves that we too are creative composers, improvisers and makers of music.

* Meeting the students and building relationships (who they are as well as what their musical backgrounds and experiences are). Is there anything more powerful than relationships in education?

* Exploring with the students what music is, trying to define it together. This could and maybe should go back to just listening to the environment and exploring the basics of sound.

* Exploring with the students, administration and community what music could mean to your classroom and school.

* Giving all students a chance to be creative with sound and make aesthetic choices (empowerment for all): Games, exercises, lessons, units on creating music from the sounds (musical and not) around us. …

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