Philosophy of Music Education
Why must all children receive an ample and systematic education in the fundamental elements of music? In order to understand the place that music should have in the education of young people, it is necessary to recognize music’s unique and essential role among all peoples of the earth and its unique and essential role within each individual.
Music, like language, is an expressive means of communication that makes mutual expression and intercultural appreciation possible. During the Cold War, President Ronald Reagan was engaged in peace talks with the Soviet Union. The mood was hostile and the translations made negotiating difficult and tiresome. One evening, the two parties paused to listen to a military orchestra play Tchaikovsky. Afterwards, President Reagan told the musicians, “Today, your music served as our nation’s first line of defense. Leaders of both nations were inspired by your music and we were enlightened enough to reach a diplomatic solution. (Lewis 1981).” The inherent power of music is recognized by every culture whether in the drum beats of a remote tribe or the complex chords of the western classical traditions. Every child should be fluent in this expressive language of communication because it is a unique way for each child of every culture to express their thoughts, ideas and feelings.
Music, like language, is a part of everyday life, and is more present in the average person’s life than it has been in any person’s life in any age of time. To elucidate this point, here are a few examples: Music is an essential element of most forms of today’s evermore powerful media. It is constantly on the radio, television, movies and on the internet. Music now plays every time a cell phone rings, and most young people walk around with mp3 devices playing music right into their ears. Offices, social clubs, places of worship, shopping malls and restaurants are filled with music. Holidays, birthdays and religious and patriotic events are given purposeful definition with the help of music. With music constant presence in the world, individuals should be informed about this powerful and ever present force.
There are a number of ways music is used in a utilitarian capacity. In other words, music serves as a tool, which can help people reach a goal even though that goal is unrelated to music itself. To draw closer to the Almighty, a worshiper uses music as a tool to help sanctify the soul and unify the believer with Deity. In order to march into battle, the soldier uses music as a tool to muster courage and patriotism. To help a baby fall asleep, a mother uses music as a tool to soothe her calm and relax the child. In order to heal from sickness, a hospital patient uses music as a tool to give hope and improve several cognitive and muscular functions.
Every child must be educated in the fundamentals of music: rhythm and tonality. They should also listen to, perform and write basic songs with good form, timbre, articulation, melody and harmony. Exposing every child to a wide array of musical instruments, musical traditions and musical genres is equally important. All children should be able to sing simple songs with accurate pitch, rhythm and good tone.
Music is a universal language of expressive communication and it is surrounding all people in their everyday lives. That is the reason every child must learn, experience, and appreciate music.
-Justin Wayne Lewis