Music Ed Mondays – Educating the Heart

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all”

– Aristotle

It goes without saying, but sometimes we (not only as teachers, but as a culture) really get caught up in our day-to-day, be it curriculum, routine, meetings, or whatever.  It’s not necessarily our fault because that’s just the pace of our world, but when we get reminded about the why of what we do (again, whatever that may be), it becomes our fault if we choose to ignore that reminder.

I don’t mean that negatively or critically, but let’s not forget about what got us into this job in the first place.

For me as a teacher, I got in it to teach kids, aid them in a positive development of their sense of self and improve the world by having more globally- and socially-minded human beings.  Now, does teaching F major or running rhythm worksheets assist in that? Directly, no; indirectly, yes without question.

Skill development always needs to be taught with the end in mind.  It’s SO easy to get caught up in scale tests, prep for the provincial or state exam, or the big essay coming up, but sometimes we have to pull ourselves from our routine and ask “now, why am I doing this again?”

If you don’t have an answer, it may be time to shift your thinking.

I justify F major to myself as having facility in a key better allows the student access to a piece of music that may move them, or at the very least, deliver an idea.  If the student keeps playing Eb instead of E-natural, the integrity of the idea and cohesion of the music is compromised.

The same argument can be made for spelling and punctuation in English: If integrity is lost through misplaced commas, apostrophes or wrong spelling, the very idea that you’re trying to communicate is compromised.  Or, to be transferred to literacy: If the student cannot translate the vocabulary or read the words, the ideas taken from literature that change the world are lost – odds are that you won’t take messages of social justice, innocence, equality and integrity from To Kill a Mockingbird if you’re inhibited by the level of the text.  It’s a round peg in a square hole; a shiny key for the wrong lock.

So, will F major change the world? On its own: No.  BUT, in the context of a piece evoking beauty to students who feel like the Music Room is the only place where they feel safe, confident and can express themselves freely without persecution? Absolutely.  So, why are we doing this again? Oh yeah, that’s right.

It must always be with the end in mind, which (for me) is to make a positive change in the student’s life and for them to take that change out into the world and improve it themselves.

For them, it will not be “will I make a difference?” But rather, “what difference will I make?” 🙂

Thanks for reading!

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