The implication of all this for early education is clear. Although a teaspoon of Mozart may not make a child a better mathematician, there is little doubt that regular exposure to music, an especially active participation in music, may stimulate development of many different areas of the brain—areas which have to work together to listen to or perform music. For the vast majority of students, music can be every bit as important educationally as reading or writing.
—Oliver Sacks, neuroscientist and writer, from Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain.
How much music does your preschooler and K-3rd grader get these days? Do you ever catch your kids humming and singing? Do you find them clapping for joy? Have they explored instrumental music in any way in school? Do they ever attend concerts on field trips? Do they like to listen to music for fun? Or do you have to pay a lot of extra money to get your child real music outside of school?
Does your school provide honest-to-goodness music classes that are enjoyable and meet regularly?
Common Core addresses music in young children by slipping it into the curriculum to build language and math skills. They “integrate” the arts into the curriculum. Students clap and count along with “The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly,” a funny song that should make children laugh. But, while there is nothing wrong with clapping to the tune, it is all geared to learning reading and math.
Let’s be honest here. This really isn’t music. It involves hard-core math and reading instruction with the façade of music. I wonder how many children really get a pull-out program for pure music fun anymore.
Listen carefully. “It’s a lot more paperwork,” said a Baltimore music teacher. “It’s a lot more documentation. But for music, the new standards actually make it easier when you’re teaching across the curriculum. It’s easier to integrate lessons that go along with the general teacher’s lesson, and it kind of forces me to make those connections with other classroom teachers” http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/laurel/ph-ll-common-core-1017-20131017,0,2632731.story. Easier for who?
Teachers should coordinate what they do, to a certain extent, and come together to understand students and their progress. And incorporating the arts into the general curriculum is fine too. But when you hear about all the documentation and making a song work for the subject it raises questions.
Can’t music be valued for the sake of music? Music is enjoyable! It is also healing and can help a child experiencing difficulties in their life. I’d say at least a couple times a week students should get some time for pure enjoyable music exposure that isn’t tied to standards. It could actually be an area of strength for a young student that will eventually lead them to real showmanship!
There are a few things about Common Core I like—like analyzing writing samples and keeping records of progress—up to a point. But everything is too micromanaged. Students don’t work well that way —especially young children—and so much documentation can steer the teacher’s focus away from the child to the paperwork. With Common Core everything is measured. It’s not necessary. It’s especially not necessary with music!
I think it is an overemphasis on control and a lack of trust. The adults who created Common Core don’t trust children, so they have to micromanage everything they do. They don’t give children any space to be themselves. That’s why the arts get short shrift with Common Core, because the arts involve free thinking and they are not able to be tested really. Children get little, if any, free time to think and imagine.
Consider the New York State School Music Association’s “A Standards Crosswalk Between Common Core and Music” http://www.nyssma.org/a-standards-crosswalk-between-common-core-and-music. Aside from it being unclear how the reading Core Curriculum Standards match the music objectives (the standards seem obscure, thrown together without much thought), the standards are also age inappropriate. Consider “Create text in response to literary work” matched to “Music composition.” What does this even mean? Can’t we just let children enjoy music? They can learn a little about composers too—but let’s not overdo.
I have never understood why those who wrote the CCSS are so controlling, measuring every child’s moment. It stresses me to think about it. What must it do to children? Everything surrounding this curriculum seems calculating and serious. In the long run we know this will cause stress and other serious problems. It could make students hate school. It will also destroy the child’s love of the arts…and in this case music. Music is powerful in its own right. Just let it be.
Parents and teachers…forget order! Don’t measure a darn thing! Get out the funny musical CDs. Sing outloud with your young children! March! It does not matter if your child sings off key, or whether they clap funny or are not learning reading and math in the process. Maybe they have a different rhythm all their own! Perhaps someday they will be a successful Avant-garde musician.
Find some empty oatmeal boxes and pots and pans—beat some drums (adults you might need some aspirin)! Shake some bells! Blow some horns! Just make noise! Try to attend community concerts for children. Trust your children to learn when they are having fun! It really is the best learning there is! Not only will they love you for it, they will, in the end, be smarter too.
As always, I value comments, suggestions and new resources to share.