Teaching music to children increases many academic, social and self-awareness skills, in addition to providing an appreciation for music itself. Reaching children through music today can become a challenge as the disconnect between Mozart and 50 Cent widens the gap between traditional music education and what students may feel is musically relevant. As more fine arts and music programs are being cut from schools, music educators are challenged to find ways to keep the benefits of music accessible to children, while still remaining true to the classical concepts of music education.
Nashville, TN, is just one of many places that are incorporating modern techniques to reach children through its music programs. Recently announced, the Mayor of Nashville has endorsed new efforts to bring today's music into the classroom, including “School of Rock” programs, DJ education, lyric and music composition and more. Music teachers know the excitement generated when a familiar song is introduced into the classroom, whether in choir, band or general music studies. It is this enthusiasm that can capture a student’s love for music easier than by studying classical composers.
That’s not to say that the history or theory of music cannot be integrated into these new programs. Forming a drum circle in a classroom can easily translate into a historical lesson regarding tribal music. The Cajon or Doumbek can be a fun way to discuss cultural issues and bring about a sense of worldly togetherness. Breaking down songs by Christina Aguilera or Blue October can easily become a method of teaching lyric and modern music composition. Recording a choir or orchestra performance can be a lesson in music production.
Finding ways to reach children through music in order to increase excitement in school, tap into inborn talent and create a life-long love of can all start in the classroom. It is through music education programs in (and out of) our schools that children are able to enjoy creative and artistic expression, while still learning about the history and practice behind one of the oldest and most enriching arts around. Exposing these students to music not only helps increase academic skills, but also gives each child a touch point from which they are able to truly define their own self through music. Whether reggae, jazz, metal or salsa, the world of music provides a wealth of benefits to children and adults, alike. By bringing these lessons into the music classroom, a full range of exposure to music is possible, and the benefits are infinite.