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Robyn Baker December 3rd, 2017

Email: ATM II

Cell: 732-284-7642 Philosophy Statement on Music Education
Westminster Choir College

I believe that music is learned and developed socially and independently.

Students learn to understand and interact with music from others first. They learn to
make music by watching others. Pitches and rhythms are mimicked before knowing
what notes are or even what sound itself is. The ear knows what music is before
learning the terminology. Vocabulary and understanding of music is learned in a social
environment. They learn how sounds interact and what these sounds are, whether it be
a flute, a cello or a lyric soprano singing.
Independent learning of music is also necessary in the learning process because
it allows students to strengthen skills and gain ownership of their music-making.
Practicing an instrument or singing alone allows the musician to fix parts of the music
they may have not been able to play in their lesson or in class. When working alone,
they may also be able to discover difficult sections that they can bring to their instructor
or peers for assistance. Some musical activities that are high-risk and intimidating like
improvisation are best experienced for the first time alone. Exploring and discovering
music alone also allows students to acquire their own musical preference. They can
find musical artists, composers, and styles that resonate with them and figure out why
they enjoy that music.
Assessments of learning should not intimidate students. Written examinations
are necessary sometimes, but demonstration through projects, presentations, and in-
class activities are better approaches for assessment. These kinds of assessments
create a lower pressure and risk environment, Assessments of the lessons themselves
should be ongoing and constant. Reviewing the successes and failures of each lesson
and how to improve upon them is crucial to molding better lessons in the future.
Lessons should never be stale. Each lesson should incorporate movement and ear-
training in some capacity, as well as lecture and discussion. Learning is a conversation,
so it should not be a one-sided projection of knowledge. Discussion allows for clear
understanding of what the students do and do not know. In this aspect, learning in a
circle, rather than in rows, opens the room for learning and participation.
Everyone is capable of learning music. Learning is like a staircase or ladder.
Some students climb up the stairs much faster than others, but eventually they will all
be able to climb to the top. With varying levels of understanding and types of learning,
the learning environment should always be safe. Students should never be afraid to
participate. Even if the opinions or answers they provide are off from the definition or off
topic entirely, they should not feel shut down or discouraged. Students should always
feel challenged, never bored or overwhelmed. I believe applying Vygotsky’s theory of
the zone of proximal development (Shabani 2010, p. 237) is very important. There
should always be extra activities or steps for the advanced learners in a class, as well
as a simpler version or different approach for slower learners. I want to provide
scaffolding (Shabani 2010, p. 238) for all of the students at the different levels they may
each need.
Another educational theorist that strongly resonates with me is Howard Gardner
and his Theory of Multiple Intelligences (Brualdi 1996, p. 2-3). Each student has their
own strengths and weaknesses, which shape how they learn. All students are
intelligent, but no two students are going to process information the same way because
their individual intelligences differ. To me, this means assessing how the students
process information and modifying the way I teach it to best meet their needs on an
individual basis.
My method of teaching music is an eclectic style, focusing on aspects of different
approaches. I believe in developing the ear early and in moveable do solfege, much
like Kodály (“Kodály Concept”, p. 1). Learning aurally happens immediately, even if
there are not yet terms in our vocabulary to match to the things being observed. Getting
comfortable with using the voice and not fearing judgment of others is an important skill
developmentally. It lowers performance anxiety and insecurity. The composition and
improvisational aspects of Orff’s method are also very appealing (Long, 2013, p. 3-7).
Creativity through composition is learned to be fun and not intimidating. Incorporating
movement with music, like Dalcroze (Juntunen, 2004, p. 21-28), is also a strong belief
of mine. Our bodies are the first instruments we learn to use. Through voice, body
percussion, and dance, we learn how to express and feel music. Moving with a purpose
allows students to identify components, such as meter, mode, articulation, tempo, and
dynamics from an early age, even without knowing that they are marching because the
piece is staccato.
Learning is both an ongoing process for both the educator and the student.
Students learn from the teacher, peers, as well as any outside influences in their lives.
The educator is also learning from the student. Students are focused on what is
relevant to their lives as individuals, as well as what is going on in the world musically,
environmentally, politically, and so on. The teacher must learn to incorporate and relate
to students on this level and learn to shape their lessons to needs of the individual
student. The educator also learns to shape lessons and assessments to the class and
is constantly growing and modifying to fit the needs of the students. These notions
make for a well-rounded educational experience.
Brualdi, A. C. (1996, August 31). Multiple Intelligences: Gardner's Theory. ERIC
Digest. Retrieved from ERIC - Education Resources Information Center
Juntunen, M.-L. (Ed.). (2004). Embdiment in Dalcroze Eurhythmics [PDF].
Retrieved from
Kodály Concept. (n.d.). Retrieved from Kodály Institute website:
Long, A. (2013). Involve Me: Using the Orff Approach within the Elementary
Classroom. In Eastern Illinois University The Keep (2013 ed., pp. 1-33).
Retrieved from
Shabani, K., Khatib, M., & Ebadi, S. (2010, December). Vygotsky's Zone of
Proximal Development: Instructional Implications and Teachers' Professional
Development. English Language Teaching, 3(4). Retrieved from