“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
– Attributed to Aristotle
At its very core, my philosophy of music education is to teach the “whole child” head (intellect), heart (character) and hands (physical). This triad of learning had been promoted in many settings and can be linked to numerous sources such as Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi in his work with Social Pedagogy and Holistic Education, numerous cultures’ viewpoints on growth, and is also the tagline for Rudolf Steiner’s Waldorf movement. Regardless of its roots, head-heart-hands creates a solid base for any educational setting, especially music education which has been infamous for a primary focus on the final product or performance instead of the process of learning. It is this threefold approach that guides my lesson planning and interactions with students like a compass constantly pointing me in the right direction.
For each lesson I plan I try to include activities that will further my students’ understanding of the theory of music, will help positively shape their emotional intelligence, and involve their physical bodies. To this end, I like to employ the use of a blended music curriculum that takes the best practices from a variety of renowned educational sources. From the Kodály method I am able to use logical age-appropriate pacing to develop the young singer’s voice, as well as hand signs in the movable “do” system which helps to establish students’ tonal centers and prepare them for advanced singing. The Orff-Schulwerk approach provides a well sequenced, gradual release type model to learning new music that directly relates to my head-heart-hands ideal. The Orff method immerses the students in a process of discovery and expansion through movement, body percussion, instruments, reading music, singing and layering sounds. The Dalcroze Eurhythmics philosophy leads my students to expand their spatial awareness and gain a physical consciousness of the components of music. By utilizing a combination of these three methods, alongside seeking out new approaches, I can appeal to the diverse population of students I serve and the wide range of needs each possesses.
My head-heart-hands philosophy is not limited to lesson planning; it extends into all the components of my teaching career. As I implement new classroom management techniques, I am conscious of my students and the impact my techniques can have on the freedom of their critical thinking, how their character is affected, and what influence the methods will have on the physical pacing of our time. It is with this base that I utilize a variety of interventions to manage the numerous personalities present in the music classroom. I seek out systems that will allow me to hold my students in the highest regard, evolve their sense of self-responsibility, and will not interfere with instruction. In the past, I have been especially fond of the Love and Logic method for helping my pupils to take responsibility for their actions and the dialogue prescribed in the method’s guidebooks. I have also enjoyed implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) to gather data on student behavior to make data-driven decisions on specific student interventions, in addition to documenting occurrences in the music room with fidelity. The Whole Brain Teaching structure provides a combination of classroom management, pacing, engagement enhancing strategies, as well as connecting physical movements to learning. Regardless of the approach, I ultimately keep my students at the forefront of my planning and use the head-heart-hands as a guidepost.
My ultimate goal as a music educator is to create a classroom atmosphere that allows students to feel safe and able to explore, experience and create music. Students in my program will gain a sense of connection and appreciation towards music, in addition to understanding music’s role in our many global societies. With respect, compassion and flexibility I will become a master teacher who educates the youth today to become the leaders of tomorrow.
“Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility—these three forces are the very nerve of education.”
– Attributed to Rudolf Steiner