As we look forward to a new school year, there have been some hopefully exciting changes coming from the Federal level that can be good news for music. The bill, at this writing, is in negotiation with the House and the president and is in rewrite stages. If this bill passes, music and art will be considered core classes, listed individually. Could be exciting times!
With this recognition, it might be time to help your colleagues and parents recognize their own music talents. This attitude can be passed on to your students. Broach the subject with these adults in your students’ lives. As we well know, an adult with a negative attitude towards music can inadvertently pass that attitude on to children. Nothing is more frustrating during open house than to have a parent of a new child pass on one of these challenging gems:
- I never liked music in school and I can’t sing.
- Little Junior never liked his other music teacher, and I didn’t either.
- Little Junior doesn’t have much music ability. Hope you can help him.
Time to break out the music superhero comments!
- I’m sorry to hear that. Music has so much more to offer than just singing. It’s never too late to discover your own music superpower. What kind of music do you like to listen to? (Leading them to describe details so you can point out that good listening skills are music superpowers).
- I’m sorry to hear that. We do a wide variety of activities. With active participation, I’m sure there is something Little Junior will discover as his music superpower.
- You know, we all have a music superpower in us. Listening skills and music appreciation are great musical gifts. I’m sure there is something that Jimmy will excel at.
And what about your teacher colleagues? Consider these dampeners to music superhero attitudes:
- I’m sorry. Joe Cool needs to miss music this week to catch up on his work.
- I wish you hadn’t taught that song. They won’t quit singing it, and it’s disruptive.
- Why do you need a bigger budget (or more money from the parent’s group?) You don’t see these kids every day.
- Hopefully we will have a new Congressional act to back us up on these. If not, explain to theIn teacher that the arts are listed as core subjects and provide learning opportunities and outlets that many of these kids who are behind need. Compromise if necessary, but do not consistently cave. If it is an issue, you might ask to have a united meeting with your administrator.
- Explain to the teacher that the singing may put the students in a good mood. Ask if there is an opportunity to allow them to sing when they are not working. Thank him/her for providing them with a time to enjoy their music.
- Explain to the teacher that, although you do not see the same students for the entire day, you need (in most cases) the entire student population, often for consecutive years. Remind the teacher that when you purchase supplies and equipment, 100 or more students will benefit.
Often, these adults are uneasy or negative about music because of their experiences. Sad were the days when kids were told to “mouth” the words because “they couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket”. Sad are the days when the same students get the singing solos, or performance opportunities. Sad when the focus is JUST on worksheets, or JUST on singing from a textbook, or JUST watching videos. But it’s not too late to educate these adults that music superpowers do not necessarily have to do with performance.
Listening skills are crucial. We all know those who do not play instruments, but have discerning ears when it comes to listening to their favorite music. We know adults who love to dance and can cut pretty good moves. These are music superpowers just as much as the gifts those who can compose or perform have. These superpowers need to be noted with adults whenever possible. Once they realize that there is more to music than a pretty singing voice, hopefully attitudes can change.
How can you do this? There are several ways:
- In notes home, ask parents to listen to child-appropriate music with their children and journal what they hear: the instruments, the mood, the tempo, the style.
- Ask the parents to put on good old oldies and cut a rug with their kids!
- Ask parents to note positive music experiences with their children. Have the children conduct an interview with their parents, neighbors, family friends about their positive music experiences.
Another way to let your students know about the music superpowers of the adults in their lives? A bulletin board display would be great! The adults can write down their music superpowers to share with the students and anyone who sees the bulletin board.
If you would like a premade kit for this purpose, I have the What Is Your Music Superpower bulletin board kit. This kit includes a template letter outlining to adults what their music superpowers can be, sets with superheros and pre-made music gift “capes” in red, green, and blue, and music symbol clip art to cut out for accent. You can purchase the bulletin board here.