Tuesday, June 14, 2016

What about the other guys? Teaching music beyond "the classics"

Having taught in the inner city for over 25 years, I want my students to learn more than the “old white dead” composers – no offense intended. But seriously?!? 

My students listened to a variety of composers over the years. In the beginning of my career, I thought I should only expose them to the music that they wouldn't hear on the radio or at home - "the classics". After all, these people have stood the test of time. Right? But...I changed my mind.

Since it is now 2016, I think musicians (not just composers) who made or have been making music for over 40-50 years have definitely stood the test of time! Yes, we as music teachers have acknowledged the contributions of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald but we are missing the opportunities to share the great gifts of newer musicians. And they don't have to be dead yet!

My students also need to know that people of color have contributed significantly to the music world - and not just hip hop. The kids need to see themselves as music makers. Therefore they need to see role models that look like them.

I began creating my "Musician in the Spotlight" sets because I wanted to take the emphasis off of composing and place it on performing. Also having taught in poor schools, I knew that I had spent TONS of my own money on materials. Even printing posters from TeachersPayTeachers can be expensive when you add in the cost of ink. I kept this in mind when I created these products. The musician photos DO use more ink but the rest of the product has mostly white space with an appealing border. 

For myself, I print one musician per month for my bulletin board AND I insert it into my SmartBoard files for the month. Using my beloved SQUILT (Super Quiet Un-Interrupted Listening Time)
minutes at the end of the class, we listen, discuss, recite the 3 peat and quite frankly just soak up the beautiful sounds. At the end of the year, my students request more SQUILT in order to hear more of their favorites. And that is music to MY ears!

Buzz on over to my store and check out all the musicians I have included. You can go to the top of this blog and click on "SHOP" and it will take you right there. Maybe you will find an old familiar face to share with your students.


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