‘Music can change the world because it can change people.” - Bono.
I remember as a 9 year old, I joined the choir, really enjoyed it, and went for weekends away on residential just to sing. It wasn’t the lovely friends I would make on residential that made me attend year after year, nor the activities, games, and food we’d all sneak in our bags! It was the connection with emotions evoked through the music that really got to me.
The feelings awakened when singing a particular song were just too strong to give up. This was the start of piano lessons, furthering my singing by joining the church choir, and going on to study music through my young life. How did my teachers engage me in music? How did they make me want to take part in musical events and education for the rest of my life? Well, they supported and facilitated. The engaging part of it was simply the music itself.
As I teach now, I constantly question my method. Am I providing the right things? Am I allowing enough self expression of each child, or am I spoon feeding them? What is the balance between educating children to be committed to a musical / drama ensemble, and their self motivation to be a part of it? At times, I certainly needed teachers and my parents to reinforce the commitment aspect of being part of music ensembles or drama groups. Of course, it is the only way to really get anywhere.
How to engage children in a love of learning? Well, in simple terms, I try to expose children to as much music as possible. Give them the chance to hear orchestral music frequently that probably isn’t at the top of their playlist at home. It is easy to see what music switches on certain children. The music that makes one quiet for instance, is so powerful. The music that makes one reflect for a short time during their day. Asking children to create music and have ownership of the music in a particular style that has engaged them further allows development of thought through music.
Music has to be a practical subject, where individuals can play, move and work together. It isn’t a subject for desks, or the constant use of pens. Music and Drama are loved by many children because they can really own it. If they create a piece, it is theirs. It is personal to them. Providing children with a sense of success and achievement is something that might make them want to pursue the performing arts. It might not.
Why do I think the children I teach like to learn about the Performing Arts? It is their chance to shine. In a class, there are always a few you feel may not act or perform, but they can and absolutely excel. They put in a performance that blows everyone’s socks off, and that memory stays with the children around them for their whole school life. It is their mark. I think many children around them aspire to have their moment. To engage in their own performance. As an educator, I simply have to do my best to facilitate.
Music and Drama Specialist