I have been passed that I took the course ‘The place of music in 21st-century education’ as it gave myself lots of great ideas moving forward and reaffirmed some older ideas in how to teach and enthuse learners.
Firstly it reminded me of the importance of my role as a music teacher, as James Humberstone (2016) said ‘that for many students you may be the only music teacher that they come across in their whole lifetime.’ That it is up to ourselves to give a lasting impression of what quality music education is.
It has primarily made myself ask what is the role of the music teacher and what do we want students to learn as a music teacher. First and firepower we want students to enjoy music education and be happy and fulfilled learners. Secondly that students develop their creativity, that they are allowed inquire to come up a wide variety of expression and outcomes. Finally developing musical skills as a musician, but learning in a way that suits the individual needs of the students.
This is where pluralist music learning can play a key role in music education. That we understand all our students are different with different ways of learning and different cultures. That we recognize that students learn differently too. Therefore having different approaches to the same outcome provides more scope to create an education that is tailored to students needs. At the same time, allowing students to toa wide range of musical exposure, of styles, genres and approaches to music.
Therefore I am relooking at my units to see if the units are allowing for a pluralistic approach to learning. They are allowing room for creative thinking and for developing musical skills. I would also categorise the units into three areas presenting, creating and exploring for the middle years. This also aligns with the new IBDP coursework units starting this year. Therefore there is continuity in students learning.
Exploring is allowing for inquiry-based learning and project-based learning. That students have to find out, research, develop skills, and find musical information to carry out their project-based learning.
Creating is about problem-solving, challenging ideas, problem-solving and coming up with solutions. Developing creative thinking skills is not just about coming up with new ideas, but also testing them, being reflective and looking for areas of improvement.
Presenting is about how you give the idea, whether it is as a performance, or a recording or a film? Does the creation need editing? Will it be produced online? What makes a good presentation? Why is it important in music?
The bottom line is to be a pioneer in music education and to rethink music education, but not necessarily abandon its traditional roots. There is a place for all kinds of music in music education from classical music to rock and pop as well as everything in-between. Therefore adopting a pluralistic approach allows for an educational shift to focus on creativity at the core of music, which in turn builds innovation.
It is also important to note that at the heart of music is community. The stronger projects that have been developed at school are when the students come together. This why things like concerts, ensembles and productions are important as it teaches students to be part of a community but also create something that is better than themselves. To rely on others and work together for common goals.
The University of Sydney (2016) The place of music in 21st Century Education. Available at https://coursera.org/share/141ffc5479f6b8f7253103b458cb66d5 Accessed on 3rd August 2020
I am the Projects Coordinator and Senior School Music teacher at XCL World Academy in Singapore. I have over 10 year of IB teaching experience and working on bringing great learning experiences and opportunities to students.