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Music Education Methods

Cathy Benedict is an Associate Professor and the Coordinator of Undergraduate Studies in Music Education at New York University.

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Cathy Benedict from NYU talks about music education methods. She believes that the challenge in music education is the blending of theory and practice. She explains that it is important for educators to address the different schools of philosophical thought and to look at the different models and how they relate to their own practice and goals.

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I think traditionally what many music education programs have been - and I say this because it seems that music education hasn’t really evolved much since I was in high school. And I think what happens is that you tend to teach the way you were taught. And people who are music educators came through, you know, a K-12 system and early on were in all the bands, all the choirs. So they’ve been involved with a very particular model of teaching. So when they think about teaching, they think about emulating their high school music teacher or high school band teacher or high s - you know, elementary music teacher. And that’s not necessarily the best role model.

So when we think about theory, we first have to kind of come to grips with the assumptions that we made about our beloved choir teacher and band teacher, and that’s very difficult. To ask someone who succeeded quite well and was rewarded all those years for doing well, and these particular paradigms that aren’t necessarily reaching every student. I think we need to start looking at music education for everyone. I know we all say that, but it still tends to be if you play well, you get to be in the band and orchestra. If you play well, you’re going to be in choir. And if you don’t, that’s the end of your musical engagements.

And so the theory is, for me, is well we look at educational theories. But trying to - the challenge is blending theory and practice, and asking them not to just rely on practice but to consider that there is, there are philosophical paradigms and there are educational theories, and there are mindful ways of looking at pedagogy and there are less than mindful ways of just saying okay, trumpet players, not so loud. That’s - you’re a trumpet player. Yeah. How many times in your life have you heard that? “Trumpet players, don’t play so loud!” “Drummers, pay attention,” right?

So we have to figure out different ways of looking at that system and looking at how it might not have worked, and looking at theories of education and looking at why they might not have worked. And then coming to grips with that, and then looking at how we can - how we can be better educators by the theories that we’ve read and compared to our experience.

So if we look at the different schools of philosophical thought in music education, I think an important part of any program is not to take one on particularly, but to address that there are different ways of looking at particular philosophers and music education. And that it’s, we are - it is incumbent upon all of us to look at both of these models and all models, and think about how they relate to our own practice and to our own goals.

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CB, Music Education Methods.doc

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