A MusEd Paper vs. The Rest of My Life

So I had a nice long talk with Melissa yesterday. You see, we have this paper due in our MusEd class tomorrow – a paper about our philosophy of music education, it’s place in schools, etc. One problem – I’m not sure what my philosophy is! Also, I don’t totally agree with the things we’re being taught/told in class about the importance of music education – especially when it comes to performance ensembles. Furthermore, I’m not sure of my place in music education, or whether or not my place is even in music education or not.

It was on those subjects that we talked, for essentially two hours. The following are some of my thoughts, after our discussion.

I do not have to agree with everything we are taught. Individual’s philosophies will differ; we cannot all be clones of one another. It’s not even that I hate music or disagree with everything; quite the opposite. I just take issues with some of the things; for example, I do not find music (in any form) to be as completely essential to a person’s well-being and ability to function in society as English (as one article tried to say it is).

Music has a very important place in elementary schools. Kids will never know what they might be talented in or interested in if they are not exposed to many different things. Music, art (visual), P.E., computers, and drama are just some of the areas that kids need exposure to, right alongside “normal” subjects like math, English, literature, history, and science. In middle and especially high school, however, music takes on a bit of a different role. Though most states require a Fine Arts class or some equivalent for graduation, music classes exist almost entirely as electives. Thus, to my mind, they do not have to be truly curricular. Well, performance classes anyway. A non-curricular music theory or general music class will never get anything done; a curriculum is essential here. But I say that performance classes do not need (and in fact cannot function properly with!) a set curriculum.

Now, I am assuming a couple of things here. One, I am assuming that the teacher/instructor/director of these performance classes is doing his/her job well. To run an effective rehearsal and perform well, teaching is still required, even without a curriculum! The students must learn about the pieces they are playing, the historical context surrounding those pieces, the composers’ backgrounds, the musical concepts contained within the pieces, and the best methods to perform the pieces effectively. This still requires teaching and learning! I simply believe that a performance class cannot be oriented to a curriculum; it must be oriented to performance.

Stepping back a little further, than, beyond more than simply my philosophy on music in schools, I look at my future. Do I truly see myself teaching band or some other music class in 5 or 10 years? Honestly? Not really… While I still love music and do enjoy helping others enjoy music, I’m just not convinced that it is truly my main passion. Melissa made a good point while suggesting a couple of things for me to think about as far as how to deal with this semester and the major in general. She reminded me that I do, in fact, care about music and music education. Thus, I need to continue to treat it as such. I care about it and it is important to me, so I need to not completely neglect it. I should not get out of the major and the school and immediately pursue something else. I am much too far in at this point to get out, and I am completely capable of finishing this major strongly and, if it comes to it, even being a very good band director and music teacher. This is all very true, and I need to keep it all in mind.

However. (There’s always a ‘but,’ isn’t there?) I feel my true passion and calling elsewhere. More specifically, at church. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but that’s where I care the most about everything. There have been way too many signs of this over the past year to continue to call them “coincidences.” The part of me that is afraid of change wants to ignore all these signs, but I shouldn’t. Mark and Alex apparently see potential in me, and I can’t honestly say that I don’t too. I have been given opportunity and opportunity to serve in many different capacities at church, and I still can’t get enough – I love it. I had the opportunity to preach this past Sunday. Is that what I want to do with my life, become a preacher? Maybe! I don’t think that’s my primary area of calling, but it’s possible! Frankly, I’ve seen myself as an Alex (assistant minister, being in charge of music and other like-minded tasks) for quite some time. Like, 6 to 8 months probably.

The church has been given some money to use for student interns. Joel and Jessica are presently serving as interns, and they receive a stipend for their internships. Mark and Alex have mentioned to me that they’d like me to consider doing an internship, very possibly in the spring. This could be part-time as I still attend school and classes, or not. I could take next semester off and work at the church essentially full-time.

You know what, that sounds amazing!

But I have a problem. Well, a couple. I really want to graduate in four years. Partially for cost, and partially because I know I can. Well, frankly, I also can’t imagine not staying in the tracks of classes with Melissa. Especially with me less-than-enthusiastic perspective toward it all right now, I need her there. Perhaps that’s a lame reason, I don’t know; but it’s true, I want to stay in track with her. Not just so she doesn’t beat me ;-P

Other problem? Dad. He’ll have a fit if I tell him I’m considering not taking classes for a semester. Or that I want to graduate with my B.S. (or is it B.A.? who knows) in Music Education and then ignore that degree and either work in ministry or go back to school. There’s no way he’d go for any of that. Which is unfortunate, because if that’s truly what I’m being called to do, he shouldn’t be able to stand in my way. But presently, even if only in my mind, he is. That doesn’t seem right.

So, here’s where I’m at overall. I still like music and even music education. I’m going to try my best to do well (enough) in my classes, and I still want to get out of them what I can. If they’re not my number one priority, that’s fine. But I am not going to blow them off or develop a rotten attitude toward them. I am going to talk with Alex at length again about this whole situation and see where we go from here at church. I want to be even more involved. We just have to find the right balance. I am going to pray. A lot. If this is what I am to be doing, I need that to be clear. And lastly, I’m going to hope (well, pray) that once I have reached some sort of conclusive decision on this all, my dad will be receptive and supportive.

Okay, so that post is enormously long. My apologies. But it doesn’t even begin to approximate the breadth of our conversation last night… lol… To sum it all up, please pray for me!

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