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   Music is the language of the universe. All over the world, people of all ages and backgrounds are moved by music everyday. No matter what language anyone speaks, everyone can understand and appreciate music in their own ways. Not only that, but music has the ability to make people smile, laugh, cry, stop crying, or dance. Music gives people the energy and inspiration to accomplish amazing feats like run marathons, and music has the ability to help us gain new perspectives on our problems and worries and feel more at peace. Music can help restore hope and optimism in the darkest of times, music can help us understand our emotions and ourselves, and music can remind us that no matter what, there is beauty in the world if you look for it.

Now, that’s powerful! 

   Music educators have the immense honor  and duty to help students discover and appreciate music and learn about themselves and others. Music is for everyone and music should be fun. A music educator should build a supportive and nurturing environment where students will feel safe and free to create and experiment.  Students should feel brave and empowered to make mistakes in the classroom, because making mistakes is how we learn and grow. The classroom should be a safe space for students, where everyone feels that they belong and are appreciated. No matter anyone’s talents and abilities, experience, or backgrounds, each and every student is an equally valued member of the ensemble. A music educator should recognize and appreciate what makes each student unique.

   Competition should have no place in an elementary music classroom.  Music can be a very vulnerable, raw, expressive art form. With singing especially, one’s own body and mind are the instrument. An overly competitive environment can stifle students’ developing courage to express themselves and take artistic risks. Studying music is an incredibly effective way to build one’s confidence and self-esteem, and students should feel better about themselves and about life when they leave the music classroom.

   Music can transform one’s mood and help one see new perspectives. Music heals. It can be very hard being a kid, and through music, a teacher can help students learn healthy coping skills and express their feelings in constructive ways. Even if students do not take an interest in music outside of the music classroom, the music class can encourage students to explore the arts in general, and it may lead to them discovering that they are passionate about writing, or dancing, or drawing. Having a passion to foster and focus on vastly improves the quality of one’s life.

   The number of life skills that music teaches us is infinite. Music teaches the ability to work independently and as an ensemble, which is a skill that will apply to all aspects of students’ lives and help them succeed in whatever future careers they choose.

Students should work on striving to be the best they can be as individuals and to feel proud when they realize what they are capable of, and to support everyone else around them and genuinely care about the ensemble as a whole. This concept relates to a choral or instrumental context, or even just to kindergarteners learning how to take turns, listen, and be kind to one another.

It is absolutely imperative that music educators teach students about music from other cultures different than their own. Students can experience a well-rounded education and learn to appreciate the unique beauty in music of other cultures, and to value and respect people who are different from them.

   A vibrant and colorful classroom can provide students with a blissful escape from the day, and with determination and effort, any classroom can become a utopia, no matter how limited resources may be. Our imaginations, voices, and the experience of making music together will remind us that we are part of something greater than ourselves, and there are no bounds to the power and magic of creating. 

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