March 23, 2016

Music Education: Helping “Typical” Students Find Their Voice

Guest post by Mary Tighe

There’s a “typical” kind of student that every teacher knows. He can’t sit still. She struggles to read quietly at her desk. He forgets to raise his hand before shouting out the answer to a question.

These are students who may not perfectly fit the mold. They’re full of energy and creativity, yet so many times, they are labeled as trouble makers and rule breakers. So often, they can lose sight of how amazing and capable they are. What if the system could give them the space they need to succeed?

This is the story my high school friend shared when I asked her why she loves being a music teacher. “I have one of the best jobs in the world,” she said. As an elementary school music teacher, she gets to share her love of music with kindergarten through fifth-graders every day – some of whom are these “typical” students – and gets to see every student’s potential in a different way.

That “typical” student is different in the music room, she told me. He shares ideas about why the xylophone should be added to a song. She volunteers to sing examples for the class. He dances to the beat. She masters her favorite song on the recorder and wants to play it for the class.

Students light up when they walk in the music room. They are passionate, capable and encouraged.

March is Music in Our Schools Month, and it’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate all students and their unique contributions, talents and abilities. As we talk about personalized education, the arts can be a perfect way to help students engage more deeply in their learning.

“Music is important,” my friend told me. “It’s important to the shy little girl who rarely participates in class, but lights up on stage during her first performance. It’s important to the fifth-grader who shares his fear of middle school through a song he wrote with his guitar. It’s important to every person who has expressed themselves simply by singing their heart out to the radio… and who hasn’t?!”

And most importantly, music gives all students a chance to be their best selves.

“As an elementary music teacher, my goal isn’t to inspire future musical prodigies,” my friend says. “My goal is to create a love for music and for each of my students to feel passionate, capable and encouraged.”

And that’s exactly how all students should feel every day during school.

Written by: Guest Post

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