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Music Educators Need to be the Driving Force

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I have attended many technology conferences outside the music technology field. What strikes me as striking is the lack of connection to the arts. These conferences have NO music teachers attending, where are they? Yes, many non-musicians “try” to bring in the arts, but they are not musicians or visual artists. They are someone who “likes” the arts, but not a trained artist. If we allow the other departments drive the music or visual arts in tech, we will get left out, as well as our students. As artists, we strive for creativity, individuality, and colors, not simply black and white. We are technology and technology is arts.

I sit through endless powerpoints, hard to read, too much to read, music looped endlessly, too loud, hard to hear voice-overs, pictures blurry, etc. How we present ourselves is OUR forte? Why are we not part of this? Why do we not teach this? We as musicians understand presentation, flow, timing, and emotion. That is what makes us tick. Why aren’t we doing this?

When there is a session on music or visual art, the sessions are packed. So, our population is there. Why are we not using this?

Enough questions, on to the answers…

First, I think it just hasn’t occurred to us. We need to “show our wares” by a powerpoint/movie that has a musical flow. We should put together slideshows of our shows to music and show the artistic side of ourselves.

Clearly, we are overworked, setting up the next concert or show. However, at times we are too concerned about our performance groups, with the students that are already musicians, not the general population. Why is this? Music is the thread through every disciple, how come we do not see or have contact with the general population like every other teacher.

Second, it is because in education, the parents, students, and administration view music is a performing art, nothing else. The large performing group is the music department.

If you ask any student, grades fourth through twelfth, they listen to music more than they study. We need to offer classes that are not just performance-based, but project-based.

The art departments get it. Any given year, a general population student can be involved in the art department, not so in the music department. We offer no beginning classes for the “garage” musicians. We offer no classes for composing music or creating videos within the music context.

I have established myself in the school as the main resource for technology projects. I cannot tell you the amount of students that find their way into my classroom for suggestions to the presentation of their project be it a website, sound file, movie file or a combination of all of them. They honestly want my opinion to the musicality of the presentation. These students are the future board members, superintendents, and parents.

Additionally, I see many parents that need direction for their business and family presentations. On-line resumes with video are finding their way to the web. How we can present ourselves is going to be key in the future. I currently have junior high students that put together college DVD’s for high school seniors that colleges demand. It is the junior high techhead that creates these DVD’s. Ah yes, he is a musician too. The serious techheads see the purple to create and use music in technology.

Just recently I called the conference chair about the conference and how can I, as a music teacher, present. They were extremely excited, that a music teacher would take charge of the music technology. I realized all we have to do is call and ask. Simple. And yes, I am presenting.

We need to rethink how we teach music and include the general population. That will increase our numbers, increase our staff, and ultimately increase our power within the school district.

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