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Ms. Messersmith

A strong, effective, and positive education is the most important item that society can offer its young; therefore it becomes the educators' responsibility to understand not only their field of expertise, but also the manner of teaching that will produce the most effective and longest lasting results. Because music is such a large part of our culture, our media, our lives, and even our emotions, I have come to the firm belief that there are several concepts that must be considered to effectively educate students in music. These five fundamental beliefs, which my philosophy is based on, are to provide a strong musical foundation in which students learn music the same way they learn language, to encourage aesthetic musical experiences through practice and performance, to teach music through both discrimination and inference learning skills, to provide a safe environment in which students can learn, and to teach with an enthusiasm that will hold the attention of the students and will provide an enjoyable educational experience.


             The most important of the five fundamental beliefs is that of a strong curriculum because if the basis for education in the classroom is weak and non-sequential the ability of the student to learn effectively is considerably decreased.  By teaching music in the same manner as one would teach language, the students' musical knowledge and skills will become second nature, much like each student’s fluency in their native language.


           If students learn music in a sequential manner, sharpen their audiation skills, practice, and perform, they will be capable of obtaining an aesthetic experience. The aesthetic experience can be hampered if the student is not allowed to perform or practice music within the classroom. Elliott expresses the travesty of teaching music without the physical aspect. He states, "without developing some competency in the procedural knowings that lie at the core of musical practices and musical works, and a first hand knowledge of the circumstances in which these knowings apply, a listener's perspectives on and relationships with music will remain moot in the most essential regard" (Elliot, 1995, p. 57).


           The last two fundamental beliefs are vital to the learning environment of any classroom, musical or non-musical. The educator must be able to provide a safe environment for students to learn. This can be achieved by understanding the socio-economic status of the students, the area that surrounds the school, the cultural background of each student, and the possible family situations that may be present. If the educator can provide a positive, well-organized atmosphere free of the various problems that may be encountered outside of school the student will be more inclined to participate fully.


           Along with providing a safe environment, the educator must teach with a level of enthusiasm that will encourage the students and allow for active learning. When providing effective encouragement the educator must be able to recognize each student's learning level. Gordon (1999) states, "the best way to account for musical differences among children is to adapt the musical guidance and instruction they are receiving to their individual musical strengths and weaknesses" (p. 43). Through providing a safe environment, enthusiasm, and positive musical instruction, an educator will provide students with an education that will last a lifetime.


           In conclusion, it is my firm belief that the best possible way to provide students with an effective musical learning experience, which follows the national and state mandated guidelines, is through a sequential learning program that applies discrimination and inference learning, performance and practice, and individual teaching while maintaining a safe classroom environment full of enthusiasm and class participation.

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