Updated: Mar 6, 2019
I believe that all people, regardless of background, have innate creative ability. Creativity is what makes us human. As a music teacher, it is my intent to show this to all of my students, whether or not they have previous music training. Even if a student does not play an instrument, compose or sing skillfully; basic music knowledge that leads to the appreciation of it as a form of expression is important to a well-rounded education.
By studying music, all students gain valuable lifelong lessons, such as the equal importance of all members in a community and the constant pursuit to better oneself. In music, there are no parts that are less important than the others. When composers choose to score a single ding from the triangle, it is for a purpose. Music teaches us to practice to improve ourselves and to always strive to be better. Moreover, any artists’ work is never “done;” through art they find that they are constantly evolving and learning more about themselves and the world around them.
It is crucial to study the music of the past as it ties us to previous generations. Humans first invented musical instruments around 40,000 years ago. Many scholars believe singing was used to communicate before speaking. Rhythm, the most basic aspect of music, is innate in human beings, as our bodies function to the natural beats of the heart, breath and footsteps. Music draws us back into the pre-historic part of ourselves. By teaching music, I intend to draw all of my students to find the innate human creativity inside of them and better learn about what it means to be human.
As a teacher, it is my goal to share music not just through intellectual study, but also through active listening, performing and visualization. I believe it is crucial to use tactile, auditory and visual modalities in teaching. Although music is an auditory art form, it is also tactile and visual. Through playing, singing and dance, music is experienced by touch as well as by hearing. Sheet music, live musical performance and multimedia bring the eyes into the world of the ears.
As a computer musician, I believe that technology improves the student’s experience and increases the amount of knowledge they retain from the course. Music began by using our voices and bodies. Then it evolved into more advanced instruments which act as an extensive of ourselves. Now it has grown to include computers, smart devices and various electronic instruments. Each new technology provides us with more tools of human expression.
Just as musical innovation has given humans more ways to express creativity, technology has also increased our capacity to teach and to learn. I believe it is important for me as a teacher to embrace the latest educational tools. Online learning and multimedia act as educational assets, not as mere stockpiles of facts. Through online communication, I believe that students are given the freedom to discover for themselves and be more than passive receivers of information. I believe it is my responsibility as a teacher to provide thought-provoking questions to stimulate discussion between students. Through online workgroups, students in a physical class or in an online setting can work cooperatively and learn from each other.
As a teacher, I believe it is necessary that I provide my students with examples of how work should be done. Part of my job is to model the level of critical thinking, creativity, performance and discourse I expect from my students. Additionally, I provide individualized feedback for students to further their growth.
Regardless of musical background, I believe that all students benefit from the study of music. Music is part of the human story and teaches us more about our feelings, our world and ourselves. Through my music classes I endeavor to show students the relevancy of musical study and increase their individual expressive capabilities.
Janae Jean Almen