Repositioning the Elements: How Students Talk About Music, by Leslie S. Rose and June Countryman
Rose, L. S., & Countryman, J. (2013). Repositioning ‘the elements’: How students talk about music. Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education 12(3): 45–64.
This article discusses the main problems with how music is taught in elementary and secondary schools today. Although there are some opinions that I did not agree with, there were many topics that made me agree with the problems of music education in today's society.
Throughout the entire article, the author emphasizes 'the elements' as the fundamental basics of how music is being taught. This made me interested as to how the elements of pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and many others are being taught in a confirmative and objective way (46). Having grown up with some education in private music lessons, I can agree with the author that the way music is taught seems to resemble a 'right or wrong' appearance, where students are only taught the critical information about music and not having the freedom to explore the creative aspects of music. What David Elliot says in the article about the music curriculum is something that I can agree with, stating that the approach to teaching music controls teachers to deliver an objective, non-negotiable truth, and gives a "knowing is different from doing" feeling in the classroom (47).
I can agree that what the author states about changing the pedagogical approach to teaching the elements of music is something to consider reflecting upon. While the "academicking" of music educators is something that makes learning less pleasurable (47), I believe that educators should focus on being creative in the classroom, and allow students to become engaged in music through their own personal experiences and connections with it (54). In this way, students could have a more subjected way of thinking about the elements of music and have a more diverse atmosphere in the classroom.
What made me feel unsettled was reading about the experiences of wanting to break free from the social norms of music but still conforming to the status quo of the teachings of music (51). The stories and experiences that Kailee and Marie told in the article makes me frustrated about how musicians are only educated in an objective-based environment. Who says that you can't focus on music that seems out of the ordinary? By upholding this stigma of objectivity, students are not able to have a fully creative and fun experience within the world of music.
In all, the article does a good job highlighting the ways that we can improve the way that music is taught. While I feel that the traditional pedagogical approach to teaching music is slightly uncomfortable for some students to experience, I believe that by changing the framework of the curriculum, we can offer a fun learning experience of music for future generations to come.
What Would I Ask the Author?
- If we were to experiment changing the teaching style of music educators to become more subjective, why would it be considered "out-of-the-norm" and frowned upon if it would create a better learning atmosphere for students? Would these teachers be considered "bad educators" for not following the traditional pedagogy of music?