While we were discussing Chapter One and what it means to be a modernist and what it means to be a post modernist, it was not hard for me to see which category I would naturally fall into. I’m a modernist. I like delineation, definition, categories, absolutes, gradation, SIMPLICITY, and facts. I constantly strive for absolute perfection - if I can get there then I am done! Now without any checks or balances I naturally gravitate to this category, but I have found that in my teaching I am trying really hard to not be a modernist, or to fight those natural tendencies. I don’t think being a total modernist is good or appropriate for music education, or total postmodernism for that matter - just as Reimer suggests with his talks on synergism. So the talking about modernism and postmodernism has led me to unpack my values and beliefs as reflected in my teaching.
Through this whole conversation of discussing the extremes of each POV and their strengths and weaknesses I have had to remind myself that its OK that I’m naturally a modernist. There is something of value in this part of my personality and that my students can benefit from, so long as I strive for balance. As a studio teacher, teaching children for whom the public school music system has worked to a certain degree, allows me to be a bit more specific and in line with traditionalist thinking when pondering my goals and aims for education. Because while I am teaching many children who will become “aficionados,” the main bulk of my students are pursuing ammetuer and professional status as performers, listeners, etc (Ch 2. I know). So therefore my values tend to reflect this category. Even if my values are a bit “traditionalist,” at least I have found the right venue for them, where I can be one to offer these traditional views, but also have my students benefit from a balance with differing views.
At the end of the day, my educational goals and beliefs that I try to convey to and for my students are these:
1. I believe there are rich experiences to be had in learning and simple music participation when students play, and master, and perform on their instruments. I think there is value in learning something from the past - a violin, or viola or a Baroque dance. It connects us in a way to our history that is meaningful. Although many parts of our history (Western, white) can be seen as shameful, there are many parts that are rich and beautiful and valuable. Music and the tradition of physically playing and instrument to create beauty and entertainment is one of these.
2. I believe that music affords and nurtures a very specific form of critical thinking and connection making that can stretch our students minds and help them “think outside the box” (of public school right vs wrong, training programs!) I seek to draw this out of my students.
3. I believe there is value in the discipline, accomplishment, and self-esteem built up in a student who has successfully (whatever that is for them) navigated and conquered a skill or piece or concept. I believe that learning an instrument is a challenging, interesting, fun way to get at these qualities.
4. Finally, I believe that my students will be the future music listeners, performers, and advocates and that to be viable at any of these they must a a deep knowledge of how to interact with, evaluate, and have fun with music! I am teaching the future citizens and parents who will hopefully have had a deep, meaningful experience with music, enough to continue to value it and advance it in the future.
Though some of these goals do seem quite modernist, I think some meet in the middle! I balance these beliefs with how I teach.I seek to be a facilitator, drawing on my students’ knowledge (a little more time consuming), instead of prescriber there to transmit information or train. I have no set repertoire that every student MUST play, I absolutely hate etudes for sure and can’t think of one student, no matter how serious, who would like to play them, and at the end of the day if the kid’s technique stinks and they sound terrible, but they are having a rich, fun experience with music that they will remember - then I have done my job!