Why Teach Music

Music is mathematical.
It is rhythmically based of the subdivisions of time into fractions which must be done instantaneously, not worked out on paper.


Music is a foreign language.
Most of the terms are in Italian, German, or French; and the notation is certainly not English, but a highly developed kind of shorthand that uses symbols to represent ideas.  
The semantics of music is the most complete and universal language.


Music is history.
Music usually reflects the environment and times of its creation, often even the country and/or racial feeling.


Music is physical education.
It requires fantastic coordination of fingers, hands, arms, lip, cheek and facial muscles, in addition to extraordinary control of diaphragmatic, back, stomach, and chest muscles, which respond instantly to the sound the ear hears and the mind interprets.


Music is all of these things, but most of all, music is art.
It allows a human being to take all of these dry, technically boring (but difficult) techniques and use them to create emotion.  That is one thing science cannot duplicate; humanism, feeling, emotion, call it what you will.


That is why we teach music.
Not because we expect our students to major in music,
Not because we expect them to play or sing all their life,
Not so they can relax,
Not so they can have fun,
But so they will be human,
So they will recognize beauty,
So they will be sensitive,
So they will be closer to an infinite beyond this world,
So they will have something to cling to,
So they will have more love, more compassion, more gentleness, more good, in short, more life.
Of what value will it be to make a prosperous living unless you know how to live?
That is why we teach music.

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Instrumentalists have a routine they go through when preparing to play a rehearsal or performance.  Getting the horn out of the case, checking its parts, cleaning and oiling (if necessary), and then playing a series of notes/scales/passages all to make sure they are ready to join the group and play their best.  Whether it's conscious or not, most musicians have their own little routine that they go through each time they prepare to play.  It's their warm up.

I and my fellow teachers are in the middle of our "warm up" routine right now.  Most of us have been in and out of our classrooms for the last couple of weeks by now, even though our contract days officially started this past Friday.  Beginning tomorrow we have a week of professional development with a little time thrown in for classroom prep and lesson planning.  We each have our own routines that we go through as we prepare to give our best to the kids who will come through our doors in just one week.  

This will be my third year at Burks Elementary and I am thrilled that I've been here long enough to establish my "warm up routine".  My instruments are clean (no more killer dust-bunnies in my xylophones!), my bulletin boards are almost finished (minus a little laminating I'll do tomorrow), and my books are organized.  All I need to do now is organize my desk and get my first weeks of lesson plans finalized and submitted!  I'm nearly finished with my warm up and I'm ready to play!  Let's get this school year started!