I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; 
but most importantly music, for in the patterns of music 
and all the arts are the keys of learning. – Plato

Patrick Hait
Philosophy of Music Education 

            Within the past several years, more and more stringent academic demands have been imposed on our elementary, middle and high school students throughout the state of New York.  This has forced other subject areas out of our schools to the detriment of our children’s well-rounded educational experience.  It is absolutely imperative that the music program be considered a core subject in our school’s curriculum and be fully reinstated in all levels of education.

            Music education could be considered one of the greatest assets of our public school system.  Music touches everybody, from the students to their parents and even the communities in which they live.  Whether one or two children receive college scholarships from the music booster program, or senior community members get the opportunity to see the middle school production of “Fiddler on the Roof”, music is the one subject in school that can have an affect on the entire community.  Music educators around the country go out of their way each year to create special performance groups to allow the children of our society to express themselves in a public forum in an artistic manner.  This subject area is one that fosters both the academic and artistic aspects of our students.

            There is a great need to teach the art, language and practice of music in our public school system.  The lessons that our students take with them – from gaining a sense of discipline and commitment, to providing an outlet for creativity, to learning about other cultures – will be part of them forever.  The general music class is the one period in a school day that allows the student to develop in a less restrictive environment.  Many of the students that are in the general music program in the high school have had little to no musical experience in their lives.  I feel that it is important to expose these students to the wide world of music in an effort to broaden their horizons and perhaps instill in them the passion that has driven me to this point in my education.  Comparatively, in instrumental music, the type of non-verbal communication that is created using instruments allows the student to express their feelings more easily.  The confidence that is gained through this experience is carried with the student into all other areas of the students’ life. 

            A well rounded musical experience can be an invaluable asset to all.  The knowledge gained in a thought-out music curriculum can supplement what the student learns in physics class, or social studies, or even math; thus teaching students important concepts on a more tangible level.  The students will actually be able to see and hear and learn about the musical productions of other cultures.  This is especially valuable in some of the more urban areas in which cultural diversity is more prevalent.  With a background in music from different cultures, students might understand customs inherent to people of different nationalities.  The students can take what they learn about other cultures and apply the foreign philosophies to their own lives thus making them a more cultured individual.

            Students will not only be able to grow philosophically, but they can develop in a more creative nature in this free and open atmosphere.  Students will have the opportunity to learn about the great composers of centuries past, and even get to craft their own works.  More advanced students will learn to manipulate the language of music into their own poetic compositions.  The students who get the most out of this experience will have truly developed a higher level of analytical thought which can be carried with them throughout their lives.

Including a general music program in the school curriculum aids students in opening their minds to different ways of thinking about a multitude of situations.  For example, in music there is not one distinct way to play a single phrase, it is based on an individuals own thought process.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, in subjects like physics and math, there is no opportunity for divergence.  There is only one prescribed way to solve a problem using formulas that are supplied for the student.  This type of formulaic thinking puts restrictions on the students mind and does not foster creative thinking and growth.  Music operates on the mind on a much higher level as it entices the students to think about a deeper meaning of the art.

            Both instrumental music classes, ranging from large band and orchestra ensembles to small group lessons, and choral ensembles have the ability to instill a sense of belonging to a child; a sense that they are an integral part of a group activity.  This is important in an adolescent’s life because there are not many subjects that allow students to find an identity for themselves in the matter in which instrumental music does.  Even though the student is part of an ensemble, they individually take on the responsibility and the discipline of mastering their part.

It is this type of class that can give an individual the ability and the desire to achieve.  There is a special feeling that is created at the end of an orchestra concert that students work so hard to produce.  This feeling of accomplishment can drive students to know that if they put their mind and their heart towards a particular goal that they can achieve anything and that can be carried to any other aspect of education.

As we strive to become better music educators in the 21st century, we really have to appreciate the importance of our field.  As music educators, we have to promote all that requires in-depth human thought and not let our youth slip in to the pre-programmed video game / MTV mentality that is gaining a stronger foothold in our society.  It is important to encourage this divergent thinking process to allow our students’ minds to outgrow their brains.  As our students begin to actually create their own artistic renditions of music and notes, they will be developing in a way that they have never done before, and it is up to us to facilitate that.  All of this, and more, can be accomplished in one of the most rewarding environments in the school setting, the high-school music room.

Patrick Hait's philosophy of music education can be opened or saved as a Microsoft Word document by clicking or right-clicking on this link.


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