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black walnut Children's Music and Pre-Literacy (27) RE: Children's Music and Pre-Literacy 19 May 08

I am thrilled...teachers are coming out of the woodwork! I love to hear your voices. While I have visited classrooms as a visiting musician, I really spent most of my teaching years leading music classes for young children with their parents/caregivers. The purpose of the classes was to teach children and grownups to enjoy making music and dance together. [Little did they know of the other things that were happening at the same time - better relationships between child and grownup, ESL learning by caregivers new to the country, magic moments where children and grownups were partners rather than stuck in their usual age=authority structure...]

Please don't misunderstand me, Mo, but I think that I do not totally agree with you . If it was all about the LOVE of folk music, then I could play the fiddle, but in truth I would have to diligently learn and practice various parts of fiddle playing over and over in order to be fluent and really have joy playing it. On the same strand, if it were all about the LOVE of reading and books (and music and rhythm and stories...) in our house, then our speech-LD and dyslexic daughter would have been able to read C.S.Lewis all on her own just as her big brother had done at the age of 6. Instead, she valiantly conquered her difficulties, with us and with some wonderful specials, through carefully constructed learning systems. For instance, when she could not say the word "ball"...we put a picture of a ball in her "talking picture book" and repeated the first sound "b...b....b..." for the word "ball". "Ball" was too long a word for her! "B....b....b..." was a drill I suppose, but she found it fun - because it gave her a label she could articulate and because it was something at which she could succeed when saying the whole word was far too difficult for her. Now, at the age of 20, she is studying very happily at the London University of the Arts, U.K. - passionately interested in costume and costume management - she reads novels for fun! - and although she still isn't crazy about writing essays, she does them for the sake of her art.

Love is ESSENTIAL - a passionate teacher/parent/model is motivating to the Nth dehgree. I couldn't agree with you more. But I do not believe that we need to divorce passion and love from method and science. I think that children can fall through the cracks that way. If science is now telling us that music is a full-brained art, not just one-sided, then perhaps it is even meore important that we encourage the inclusion of it in every kind of other learning, rather than drop the funding for the "fluff" teachers (music teahcers and librarians are often considered "fluffs" where I live).

I do believe that science can be misconstrued. Teachers (where I live) are told that they must include a certain music in the classroom every day. Well, who could argue with that? Except that often the music making is very didactic....a means to an end. If the majority of the singing is to get children to line up, to be quiet, to get out their books, to put on their coats, to buckle up their boots, to learn their ABCs, to sound out their phonics...then the curriculum is accomplished but the children are being cheated.

I think that music is magical - that it is a key that opens doors, many kinds of doors. I believe that rich music creates rich magic.

And I don't think that it is unscientific to say so. :-)


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