This Thanksgiving, I would like to give thanks to a special friend I have made on Twitter.  Richard Lakin has been a wonderful supporter (and retweeter) for me even though he lives across the globe.  (That’s the power of social media and a PLN!)  Today I would like to feature his article on the importance of music integration.  You can view this article on Richard’s website and follow him on Twitter @Thanks2Teachers.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! ~EMP

As a former elementary teacher and principal in Connecticut, I’ve always felt that the music program in a school enriches children’s lives. All the arts, in fact, contribute a special vitality to our children and to their schools.And now, many years later, when I listen to my 6 year old first-grade grandchild singing to himself in the backseat of our car at the end of his school day, I’m reminded again and again how important music is in our daily lives.  I still recall from my 1940s childhood Ella Fitzgerald singing the silly and lively A-Tisket A-Tasket during those radio, phonograph and B&W movie days.

Frankly, I’m very worried about the status of music in American public education in the 2010s as I read, from my home in Jerusalem, about the narrowing of the curriculum brought about by No Child Left Behind. High Stakes testing has had a devastating impact upon a whole decade of youngsters and their teachers. No wonder teachers are fearful of taking time away from anything that isn’t being tested.

Reading Elizabeth Peterson’s blog, The Inspired Classroom, and her 2006 book Inspired by Listening: Teaching Your Curriculum While Actively Listening to Music has given me much food for thought and more cause for optimism. Her book is a rich, teacher-friendly resource which provides interested teachers with viable, well thought-out lessons which can assist in incorporating music into the classroom.

Elizabeth insightfully analyzes the Art of Listening and shows us how listening to music can move beyond the Passive and Responsive to the Active as the listener “uses his intellect and emotion at the same time to hear what is happening in a piece of music and to respond to it.” Many excellent suggestions are given explaining how students may use and develop their language arts skills in responding to music. Social studies and history are examples of other areas suggested for integration of music– where both the music and the curriculum areas equally play important roles. This is beautifully illustrated by Elizabeth’s National Anthem Project.

At a time when school districts are cutting back on their funding of the arts, the integration of music into the classroom shouldn’t be understood as a cost cutting measure.

Music Integration, in collaboration with the school’s music teacher and music classes can elevate the role of music in 21st century education as well as have a direct impact upon the emotional, intellectual and cultural development of our youngsters.

Music is everywhere in our lives. Why shouldn’t the joys and sounds of music be everywhere in our schools as well? Music needn’t take a back seat to the so-called basic school curriculum. Music nourishes our souls and our humanity whatever our individual tastes or connection to it.

What could be more basic?!

~Richard Lakin

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