The Performance of a Lifetime: Knowing the Roles and Learning the Lines
By Lindsay Morelli
As a pre-service music educator, I have only been a spectator of my own music teachers throughout my educational career. I have observed how they run their classrooms and rehearsals; I watched their conducting techniques; I listened to lectures and took notes. My job right now, like any music education major’s, is to be a sponge and absorb any and all information from practicing music teachers.
As with many other professions, Music Education is taking a lot of hard hits during this current economic time. Programs are being cut or receiving less funding, which in turn decreases the amount of teaching jobs and deprives students of any musical instruction or experience. The state of our profession is currently on the defense , fueling our creative minds to find ways to save our world.
With that being said, it’s very clear that today’s pre-service music educators are going to have to be more than just teachers. While our first priority and responsibility is to teach students technique and fundamentals of music, there will be times when the spotlight is shining on other tasks and situations. Being aware of these situations is one thing, but preparing to handle them requires a mental rehearsal of sorts. In a fairly competitive field, teaching jobs are going to rely on more than a degree and a decent resume. If the world of Music Education is going to continue growing and flourishing, there are two things that need to happen: 1) Current music educators need to state the roles and set the standards for new teachers, and 2) Pre-service educators need to prepare and study for these roles, both within their degree programs and in their own research and initiative. As musicians, we are familiar with the audition process and know full well that preparation is the key to success. Pre-service teachers need to prepare for their audition into the profession.
The first step in preparation is to identify the roles that are expected of a music educator. As I mentioned earlier, the first priority is to be knowledgeable in your craft so you can bestow that knowledge onto your students. Strive to be what you define as “great teacher;” it is the role you have been preparing for since your first day of college, but what you didn’t know is that there are several roles within that you need to perform as well.
“Commander in Chief”
In our current economy, a lot of arts programs are being cut completely. To those outside the arts, this may have little to no effect. To current and aspiring music educators, though, this threatens our livelihood and our world. Our profession is in a constant state of defense, and as music educators we need to lead our programs by advocating our purpose and place in education. Whether it is by convincing students, parents, administration, or higher government authorities that our programs benefit and influence the community and provide a well-rounded education, we need to be proactive leaders in all situations. Learning the lines for this role only requires your commitment to advocating music education. If we don’t stand up for our programs, who will?
The world of Music Education is changing in response to our world today. The 21st Century classroom is composed of a variety of new technologies: computer software, smart boards, and recording devices, to name a few. In addition, we have access to new music resources on the Internet that enable us to locate sheet music, repertoire recordings and videos, historical information, ear training and theory aid, and if you look carefully, there are several teachers hosting their own websites and blogs sharing their educational experiences and insight while networking with other teachers. The Internet puts the world at our fingertips, giving us access to resources and media that not only make our lives easier, but also can ultimately expand our knowledge.
By introducing these new technologies in our classrooms and to other teachers, we will be bridging the traditional and familiar way of teaching music with new approaches and ideas. Innovating our curriculums and lessons not only advances our field, but it advocates further research and study in future music innovations. As pre-service teachers, not only do we need to absorb the knowledge of our own teachers, but we also need to independently keep up with the trending technologies that are aiming to advance and advocate our profession.
There are always going to be students whose musical abilities visibly shine through, but I truly believe that regardless of musical talent, there is untapped musical thought and ability in every student. When comparing music teaching to the teaching of the core subject areas (math, history, science, etc), there are always students that excel in certain subjects more than others, yet everyone is expected to learn the concepts and functions of every skill and lesson. The same methods should be used for teaching music. Not every student is going to leave the classroom wanting to be a professional cellist or a theory professor, but since music is a part of everyday culture, we should teach students the concepts and functions of music in their lives. Music educators need to find ways to reach music students of all levels of ability and interest.
The Character Description
All of these roles have one aspect in common: Advocacy. The most important lines we will learn will always focus on advocating for music and our programs, because it’s something we need to practice in all we do. By preparing our roles for a career in Music Education, we are not only setting ourselves up for a successful performance, but are also preparing the performances of future music educators.