During the summer, I often find myself with an overabundance of something that I seldom have during the school year–time. Because of this, I have opportunities to do things like go to the beach, read, and most of all, think. I think about a lot of things, but one topic that’s been on my mind a lot lately is the future of music education. I can’t help but wonder (and worry) where the field that I love and have chosen to dedicate my life to will find itself in five, ten, fifty years.
This is not an uncommon trait. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a music educator who doesn’t think about the future. I know that it is a very common topic of conversation between myself and my fellow students at Rowan.
So where are we headed? What will music education look like in three or four decades? I have no answers, but I know where I believe it should go, where it can go, if we let it.
I believe that it is entirely possible for us to bring meaningful musical education and experiences to 100% of students in our schools inside of the next 30 years.
Note that I did not say 100% of the students currently enrolled in our band, orchestra, and choir programs. I said 100% of the students in the school.
So how can we possibly reach every single student in a given school? It’s simple, really. We use the music that the students already listen to. Many of us (including me) bemoan the fact that while our students have no idea who Stravinsky, Beethoven, or Hindemith are, they know by heart every lyric to every song by the likes of Lady Gaga, LMFAO, and Nicki Minaj. We weep for the death of musicianship as we see things like the T-Pain Autotune Microphone advertised on television. We snort with disgust at our students’ lack of interest in the great composers of the past.
Just because our students don’t enjoy listening to the same things we do doesn’t mean that we cannot teach them to become educated listeners and musical creators.