The Next Decade and Beyond
Gipson, Ann M., American Music Teacher
As a child growing up in the 1960s I remember watching The 21st Century, a television show hosted by Walter Cronkite. The show focused on the future and what life might be like years from then. I remember thinking how far into the future the 21st century seemed at that time. But we are already 10 years into the 21st century. The future is here.
During this past summer, I had the opportunity to participate on a panel discussing the topic "Teaching Piano in the 21st Century." During the hour-long discussion, many issues were addressed, including the following questions: As music teachers, how does our teaching need to change to adapt to the students of the 21st century? What changes in our philosophy or approach need to change to reach students who are not willing to study classical repertoire? How can we more effectively communicate the value of music study and music making to society?
While the goals of music study haven't changed much over the past few decades, the environment in which we teach music has changed considerably. Here are some of the things I've observed with my students and their parents. Today's students are technologically savvy, possess more knowledge of the world around them and are given more freedom in making choices. Due to the ease of connecting with others via e-mail, texting, Facebook and Twitter, students expect immediate feedback and instant answers/results. In turn, they often exhibit a shorter attention span and lack of commitment to a singular activity or goal. Students are bombarded with a multitude of entertainment options and are encouraged to experience numerous after-school activities.
In addition, parents are often uncertain about the value of music study as they encounter conflicting messages from various sources. When music programs are eliminated from a public school curriculum, regional orchestras are floundering to stay afloat and pop musicians are treated by the media as music icons, is it any wonder that parents contemplating music study for their child might wonder about the value of music lessons?
As music teachers of the 21st century, we may need to adapt our teaching philosophy or teaching style to find new ways to reach students who will benefit from music study. …