I have had the fortune of working closely with Sally Gregory on a range of projects during my time at Canadian Lead Primary School. She is far too modest to say it herself, but she is a skilled musician, a talented director and above all, an outstanding educator. She has taken the time to write the guest post below outlining her take on Music education and its value in our primary schools. – Teddy.
It has taken a great deal of persistence and nagging on Teddy’s part for this post to be written. I think it would have found it easier so play one of my own songs for a crowd of thousands than to somehow put the cacophony of thoughts in my head about music education into a ‘brief and succinct’ blog post.
I was one of the lucky students who went through the mainstream education system in Australia and came out the other end with not only knowledge but also a love of music. Unfortunately this was not due to the quality experiences at school, but the foresight of my mum to pay for me to learn at a private music school. This is a classic illustration of what I like to call ‘The Great Divide’. On the one hand, there are amazing educational opportunities for young musicians who can afford to access them. On the other, most students in government schools don’t have this opportunity.
Why not music? The excuses will come thick and fast if you ask. Not enough money, no teacher expertise, lack of resources, not enough time or just not a priority. In primary school music, dance, drama and visual arts are all thrown under the one blanket of ‘the Arts’ with vague statements thrown around about how to teach and access them together. Surely they are all the same?
Wrong. To put them together and to say teaching any part of one is enough diminishes their value and educational benefits.
So what are the benefits?
Here is where I struggle to articulate what it is that I so passionately feel. I could quote endless results from case studies about the benefits for school communities, how music has turned schools around, increased attendance and made students feel more connected to their peers. I could provide links to research into the educational benefits, how it assists student’s brain development and learning in literacy and numeracy. I could talk about the value of creativity or about music for enjoyment and the response it evokes in all of us.
But ultimately, words can only go so far in expressing the worth of music.
Evelyn Glennie, a deaf virtuoso percussionist, has developed a better understanding of sound than most of us will ever achieve. She can determine the pitch of a note through touch alone. Most would argue that music is of little significance or value to someone who can’t hear and yet the impact it has had on her life has been significant.
I challenge all those out there who proclaim often and loudly that you’re not musical to think about what experiences lead you to come to this conclusion. For teachers in schools without a music program please consider how you might be able to use music to benefit you students and school community.
You can find Sally Gregory on Twitter: @SalGregory
Are you a Music/Arts educator? What are your thoughts?
What does the Music/Arts program look like at your school?
How do you bring creativity into your classroom? What benefits have you seen?
Please share your comments and expertise in the space below.