The Place of Music in the 21st Century Education

DSC_0008As a music instructor, continuing education is essential for long term professional growth, which is why I enrolled in The Place of Music in the 21st Century Education available on Coursera.  As such, I’ll be posting personal responses to the course’s assignments in this section of the blog.

Week #1:

This is an exciting time to be a music educator!  It has never been easier to learn, create, or perform music.  As a guitar teacher, I can create lesson plans on the fly with Keynote, share backing tracks from Band-in-the-box, and post student compositions online.

Indeed, from my iPad to my electric guitar, I use technology everyday to supplement my lessons and make traditional guitar lessons more intuitive, exciting, and fun!  As leading online expert, Stephen Heppell, discusses in his 2014 EduTECH talk, technology is transforming our ability to learn, create, and share in real-time.

Technology has democratized music production.  Today, my students can learn a new concept, compose using the new concept, and publish their compositions in a single class.

In fact, you can listen to actual URGD-student (between the ages of 5 – 15 years-old) compositions, by checking out the URGD Sound Cloud page.

Week #2:

In the first module, we learned 100% of high school students around the world deeply identify with music, yet 5-7 % of teenagers choose to study music. Additionally, roughly 50% of U.S. students quit music lessons within the first two years of study.  Obviously, there’s a deep divide between children’s love of music and music lessons.  Whatever the reason may be, traditional music education is failing to capture the interests and imagination of 93 – 95% of high schoolers around the world.

That’s why I developed The Ultimate Rock Guitar Dojo for Kids (URGD) to:

  1. Inspire kids with peer-orientated music: From day one, I teach kids how to use traditional musical concepts like rhythm, chords, and pitch to create their own music.  And the music they create is more often than not amazing!
  2. Reinforce hard work with tangible rewards: Learning a musical instrument is hard work, that’s why I developed a system of belts and stripes to reward them for all of their effort.
  3. Foster creativity by teaching kids to write and produce their own music.

Within six-months of its inception, the URGD is now in four Portland Public Schools, the public library, and a handful of group classes in private homes.   Moreover, our students are creating original music each and every lesson, music teachers are taking notice, and the parents are raving about our innovative curriculum because it meets kids where they’re at now and teaches them to create original music from white belt level to black belt level representing roughly 10-years of music education.

As Richard Gill so eloquently stated, “They just don’t like the music that they’re being taught, mainly. And they don’t like it because, A, it’s taught badly, B, it’s not related to anything they know. C, there’s a lot of written work that goes on that is pointless and meaningless, D, teachers occupy the time by giving them worksheets about color the violin in and who cares. Instead of actually saying where can we go with what you know.”