The Art of Pioneering a Music Program

February 15, 2012 at 2:49 am | Posted in music education, Music Teacher Profession | Leave a comment
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How does one start a music program that is largely non-existent? Here in South Africa it’s only the private schools that include private/instrument music lessons in their curriculum. At the moment, I’m teaching music appreciation as a subject in a private boys school that is obsessed with sport (grades 4-8). Music is a very low priority and making headway is slow and sometimes, I have to admit, I want to fall down in a puddle on the floor in the fetal position and suck my thumb at the injustice of it all.

I had to ask myself, after coming from a co-ed school, what do boys want? What do boys love? I had to make it relevant for them. A while ago I read a book by Dr James Dobson called “bringing up boys”; in it, he states that most teachers gear their lessons towards girls and not boys. I had a long think about it and realized I did that very thing in my music lessons. Girls are generally very accepting about most things we do within music lessons, but boys are rough and ready, these warrior like personalities who couldn’t be bothered about singing and dancing unless it involves some sort of hip hop fight scene.

They like the physical stuff, like drumming. I am generalizing here, as many boys do enjoy other things, but in my experience, they are in the minority. I began to formulate lots of rhythm lessons and invested in many pairs of drum sticks and boomwhackers where the boys could whack out their frustrations, in a controlled environment, to their hearts content. I have had to be creative in picking what I do with them, especially in a school where the music budget is small.

Boomwhackers are great to be able to teach chord structures to the boys in a fun environment. I will put together a tuned rhythm where I use the chords C, F and G. I hand out C and E (C chord), F and A (F chord), and G and B (G chord). We then create a rhythm and the boys whack it out as hard as they want to on the tuned, hardy, plastic music makers. At the end of the time, their hands are sore, they’ve blown in their friends ears through the tubes, tried out the strength of the plastic on another persons head and left thanking me for a very enjoyable lesson. I swell in the face of gratitude as my next class enters to go through the whole scenario again.

And slowly, slowly, each year I’m around, I begin to make a little more headway in the music scene around our college. I have to place music where there is none and create opportunities for musicians where there were none… and when all is said and done, I can turn around and be immensely proud of placing a musical note in a sport infested environment.

– Celeste Smith

Celeste is also an author of a book that tells a true story about a family’s struggle and ultimate victory in dealing with a disabled child. She speaks very frankly about their ordeal and feelings of depression and anger. She speaks about how this affected her other child and her relationship with her husband. She brings you into her world now, which is a place of peace, security and victory through Jesus Christ.

Websitehttp://www.celestesmith.co.za/
Follow her on Twitterhttp://twitter.com/celestetracy

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