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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000661.txt from 2001/05

From: "Dee D. Hays" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] School Board
Date: Sat, 26 May 2001 12:35:01 -0400

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
Subject: Re: [kl] School Board

> At , you wrote:
> >I'll expand a bit more on this when I get home tonight
> >but I should have mentioned that I meant for Music Education
> >to be a mandatory course for *ALL* students. Band and chorus
> >members would NOT be excused from the Music Education class.
> >
> >I'll explain my reasons next time I post but must go for now.
> >
> >Dee Hays
> >Michigan
> It makes no difference to me how you spell it out Dee - most music
> departments within the public schools cannot and WILL not fund separate
> classes - nor is there enough time in the curriculum to do so (just try
> fitting a required music class into a 6 period day and have anyone show up
> for a "performing" class). In over 85% of all public schools nationwide,
> band, strings and choir are the ONLY classes to offer music at the high
> school level. Your idea may sound great in theory, but the fact is - the
> only people teaching music at most public high schools teach these areas
> primarily. There are schools that offer theory and history, jazz studies,
> etc. - but these are often not allowed unless students participate in
> ensemble as the primary music class.


Here you are taking on a defeatist attitude. I could throw the same
argument back at you. Band and chorus instructors are not teaching music.
They probably cannot as isn't time when the focus is and should be on
performing for these groups. These types of arguments simply end up with no
change in the status quo.

Actually the loss of general music classes may perhaps have contributed to
the viewpoint that a school band's primary purpose is to support the sports
teams. No one, administrators, teachers, parents, or students, knows any

What I am talking about is that we as parents and the music educators need
to band togethether and get a practical program agenda if we truly believe
that basic music should be part of a core curriculum. Core curricula does
not mean extensive studies in history, theory or jazz etc, but giving the
student an overall picture of the field so that they are equipped to select
how much, if any, they want to include in the rest of their lives.

Before you say it can't work, the following program was actually used in the
small rural schools that I went to and approximately 1/3 of the student body
enrolled in the voluntary, extracurricular band and about 1/3 enrolled in
the voluntary, extracurricular chorus. Many of us were in both though that
meant sacrificing study halls and sometimes lunch breaks.

1. One year of basic music in elementary school for all students. This to
include basic staff and note names, maybe a little recorder playing, some
basic singing, and other very fundamental activities. Perhaps include
recognition of the various instruments through such pieces as "Peter and the
Wolf". Separate, optional, and *NOT* a substitute for basic music would be
elementary band and chorus. None of these have to meet 5 days per week if
there are not enough class hours available.

2. One year of basic music in middle school. Include chords, circle of
5ths, familiarization with musicals such as "West Side Story" and so on.
Again, separate, optional, and *NOT* a substitute for this class would be
band and chorus. Again none have to meet 5 days per week.

3. One year of basic music in high school. This could include some basic
composition and an overview of music development from cavement to New Age.
It would have to be an overview as there would not be sufficient time to go
into depth. A clever teacher could work in how the old music lead to and
influenced the music the kids listen to today. They could also work in how
the pop music influences non-pop composers and how music is used to increase
the impact of movies, advertising etc. As with the earlier grades, none of
these have to meet 5 days per week.

The bands that I belonged to in school did not meet every day of the week.
Yet we received I's at contest as a band and as individuals. We had
students make All State. We marched the football games and parades. It was
not mandatory yet everyone who could did participate.

The amount of music knowledge that students have coming out of school bands
and choruses is distressingly small. They can play their instruments more
or less but that is about it. Some actually play exceptionally well. Now I
am sure you can bring up students and schools that are the exceptions but
that does not change the fact that the norm is band and choral classes do
not really teach music.

Dee Hays

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