You’re sitting there in music class. You’re no older than 10 years old. The teacher is trying to show you “Mary had a little lamb” on the recorder.
There’s no need to lie. For most of us, that was our first exposure to learning a musical instrument. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that yearned for another way to get exposure to music at that tender age.
Fast forward many years later and suddenly, I find myself on the other side of the coin. I am now the music teacher, trying to bring the fundamentals of music education to my students. I have found that in order to have a student excel, you must find a healthy balance of implementing fundamentals along with playing material that excites the student. You have to understand what drew your student to their interest in music in the first place and how you can use that path to teach them fundamental music theory and knowledge of a specific instrument.
With that in mind, I recently came across an incredibly inspiring article regarding electronic music and how it could be implemented in schools. In the article from The Conversation, author Pete Dale details his experiences as a secondary music teacher in England and how he used his student’s taste in music to teach them how to perform and understand music.
To quote Dale:
"I, too, had little or no experience of using DJ decks when I became a secondary school music teacher in 2003. MC rapping was alien to me and I had never been much of an enthusiast of EDM. But because of the inner-city character of the North East of England school I was working in, I soon realised that a large minority of the learners were passionate about a form of happy hardcore EDM known as “makina”...The bulk of the pupils that were into this type of music at my school were considered to be some of the most disaffected and “at risk” learners. But I actually learned much of what I now know about DJing and MCing from these young people.”
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Dale quickly realized that he could take advantage of his students’ taste in music and apply it to his own class. He understood that electronic music is a genre that has been influential for many years now and the primary elements of this music could be applied to structured music classes in school. Dale goes on to explain why he feels it’s important to implement student’s taste in music to his curriculum and how he could help students from all backgrounds in life.
“Making our classrooms relevant to students is vitally important, because if school feels culturally alien and alienating – as indeed it does for a significant minority of typically inner-city youth – then as educators we are leaving behind a whole group of keen and passionate music lovers. Engaging pupils with music they know and love is one way to make school feel more familiar and more welcoming. And it could even help to change a few stereotypes about what “types of people” listen to “what types of music” in the process.”
I can certainly relate to Mr. Dale’s experience and how listening to your students and their interests could be paramount for educating them in a specific topic. While other forms of music could provide a stepping stone for students to learn, dance music seems like such an ideal art form to use for teaching kids music today.
Whether it’s explaining basics of rhythm using “four on the floor” beats or how to understand melodies by learning a “hook” of a particular song, dance music could provide many rudimentary benefits to students learning music for the first time.
I applaud Mr. Dale’s efforts and I hope that this is something that catches on in school systems around the world.
Follow the link to read Dale’s full article on the importance of dance music and education…