Music Education Philosophy

Philosophy of Teaching

Quoting my mentor (sensei) and supervisor for 18 years, Dr. Kenneth R. Raessler (Emeritis Professor & Music Department Chair of Texas Christian University):

"Excellence is an affective mindset, a way of life, and a continuing process, not an event or passing goal. Nor is it a final destination, but rather an ideal to which one must aspire. The job of attaining excellence is one that never ends."

(See Dr. Raessler’s book: Aspiring to Excel: Leadership Initiatives for Music Educators, GIA Publications. ISBN 1-57999-216-1)

Excellence, for many years, has been my personal and professional mode of DAILY operation. Daily operation in excellence causes one to recognize excellence in others, embrace their successes, and share in their joy. Success and excellence are contagious, and can be by example sparked in students to learn new musical skills and information. Their exhilaration from being successful is a source of personal joy and reward.

The music teacher, who possesses great depth of personal artistry, deeply loves music and the students, and constantly teaches with fresh approaches, will foster excitement for learning in the students. That teacher’s classroom products will be the highest levels of excellence in student creativity, musicianship, artistry, and critical thinking. This point was made clear one morning when a class of fifth graders spontaneously turned to me with puzzled expressions as a student teacher tried for the third time to enact something musically inferior on them. When I realized their astute perception, I said, "Yes. I agree with you!" My students continually learn as I continually attend post-graduate courses, workshops, inservices, and certification courses.

Aesthetics and excellence are great focal points for a person’s Gestalt development when classroom music, band, chorus, orchestra, and appropriate ensembles are offered to all students determined by grade-level appropriateness. The vehicle for this development is (1) a comprehensive spiraling and cyclical curriculum inclusive of all research-based objectives, techniques, and materials, with assessments using (2) active participation (listening, singing, moving, playing, creating / improvising, describing / evaluating, and reading / notating) and (3) high-level competency benchmarks in every grade K-12 in all rhythm, tonal, music concepts, and creative, and critical thinking skills, (4) aligned with the National Standards.

My music philosophy and music teaching paradigm is summarized in the Chinese proverb:

"I hear (Tell me), I forget,
I see (Show me), I remember,
I do (Involve me), I understand."
--Chinese Proverb--

"In a lifelong search for my students’ learning limits,
I only ever found my teaching limits!"
    --Dr. Knauss

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