Banners
Banners
Banners
Banners
Banners
Last Updated
Tuesday 03 August 2021, 12:07 pm.
Banners
Why does music education matter?

While it is tempting to drop the arts, in particular music, from the curriculum of schools when times are hard, the peril is that young people will find less edifying activities to escape the daily grind, writes *Dr SONJA DARLINGTON, a visiting sociology professor at UB
By (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Why does music education matter?








As a visiting professor at the University of Botswana, I have had the privilege of meeting many academics and students who have enriched my understanding of Botswana.  I have learned, as I did when I taught at the University of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania in 2004, that intellectual gems in the form of knowledgeable individuals make up the various faculties in the University of Botswana.

However, knowledgeable and creative people are also found in government school settings, and I had the opportunity to meet just such an individual at a local junior secondary school in late March.  As a professor in education and youth studies in the US, at a small liberal arts college (Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin, USA), I had made arrangements to visit some private and government schools as part of my semester-long residence at UB.  My interest was to investigate some of the issues associated with mass education, a challenge that affects countries, such as the US, as much as it does Botswana. 

Among many of the challenges facing contemporary education is the question of what is important in the curriculum for today's youth.  My personal perspective on what matters in education is related to the fact that my early education included a heavy dose of music and languages, in addition to the standard subjects: math, science, history and English.  From grade three on in an American public school, I was in orchestra and played the violin. 

My father liked the violin because his mother had wanted him to play, but he did not make the time for it in his own career.   However, after he had a family of his own, he insisted that each of his five children play violin or piano.  Therefore, my education from primary to secondary to college involved participating in an orchestra. It was in these groups that I developed my study habits, personal interests and academic pursuits.   In Junior High School, I won a place in the Cleveland All City Orchestra and in college I played in a well-known Bach Festival Orchestra. 

These details are important because I am going to make the point in this article that music matters.  Just as the young teacher I interviewed noted, music is a language that transcends verbal communication and it is the basis of generating an identity that is strengthened through the discipline of a daily routine of practice, and more importantly, it is the basis of building an identity that is creative, flexible and vibrant. To say that music matters is to insist that life ought to be more than subsistence living as existence is a process of selecting activities that can make every day meaningful and worthwhile. 

Furthermore, to say that music matters is to argue that communal activities are very important and that these activities make up significant cultural practices that sustain families, villages, cities, and nations.  Billions of people have found meaning and enjoyment over the centuries through music, dance, literature, theater and visual arts.  For many, making money is important and buying luxuries is a desirable goal.  But at the end of the day, many people do not want to be on these paths of success, trapped in a spirit-depleted life.

Particularly in times of economic pressure, it is tempting to drop the arts, in particular music, from the curriculum of schools.  However, the mistake is that then young people find other means to find relief from what they consider the daily grind and they indulge in other less edifying activities, such as drinking too much.  Alfred Bakang Segomotso, in his dissertation entitled "Music Education in Botswana Junior Secondary Schools," maintains that music

Banners

helps people communicate in difficult situations; it aids in-group identity; it encourages the development of memory; and it aids in creating a mood/atmosphere.  In his study, he recommends that
Botswana music educators need to encourage administrators in schools and government to become aware of the positive role music education plays.  From his sources (Spruce, Hoffer and Klotman, Kaagen and Chapman and others), he argues that music education is important in children's self-expression and creativity, in their aesthetic sense, in their motor and rhythmic development, in appreciating their cultural heritage, in learning cognitive and abstract thinking, in developing social and inter-personal skills, and in improving language skills.

Thus, to my friend who has chosen to dedicate his life to music and to helping junior secondary school students appreciate this art, I am writing to publicly address his issues that make teaching music a hardship for him.  I am questioning why Marula Mantsi, Motswedi, Nanogang, G-West, and Tlokweng Junior Secondary Schools are losing their battle to support music for their students.  I am questioning why music is not a part of many other junior secondary schools.  I am questioning who is responsible for the lack of music labs in schools that offer music in their curriculum. I am questioning why not even half of the music classes in this country have an adequate number of instruments in their school. I am questioning why some of the music teachers cannot play the instruments that they are supposed to teach. I am questioning why Botswana does not see music as a cultural gift that enhances the social capital of its citizens.

My junior secondary school teacher-friend has some suggestions to immediately improve this dire state of the arts when it comes to music, and I think it is worthwhile to print them here as the conclusion to my comments.  He would like to see Btv present a series on music in Botswana so that the public becomes aware of what kind of learning is possible in a music classroom.  He would like to have music workshops for teachers to learn to play the musical instruments they teach.  He would also like for his superiors to recognise that putting a musical group together to perform cannot be done at a moment's notice.  In other words, he wants people to understand that performing groups must be supported so that they can rehearse to provide performances of high calibre. Music is a discipline that has deep roots and it is mastered through lots of practice, just like other subjects such as math, science, and languages.

In making my key points for this article, I fully support my friend and colleague's suggestions, and I also want to call for a change in the mindset of parents so that they encourage their children to practice their instruments at home.  These young people are not simply making noise. Rather, they are really making sense out of a language that speaks equally to everyone who is willing to listen.  In my case, I will always appreciate that when I first started playing the violin, my parents encouraged even the rough sounds that I made at the beginning. 

Their support and dedication was instrumental in my becoming the professor, parent, and person that I am today.I consider myself an individual who, because of music, is able to appreciate the sights and sounds found in the beautiful country of Botswana. 

* Sonja Darlington, Ph.D., is a Visiting Professor in Sociology, University of Botswana and Director, Associated Colleges of the Midwest Botswana Programme, 2013. Professor, Education and Youth Studies Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin, USA.

Subscribe to our Newsletter
Banners Banners Banners


Analysis
Thu 11 Apr 2013
Thu 11 Apr 2013
Thu 11 Apr 2013
Thu 11 Apr 2013
Banners
Banners
Subscribe to our Newsletter
have a story? Send us a Tip
Banners
  • Previous
    Next
    Masa Centre
    ::: Tuesday 03 Aug - Tuesday 03 Aug :::
  • Previous
    X-Men: Dark Phoenix
    Next
    Riverwalk
    ::: Monday 17 Jun - Saturday 17 Jun :::
    X-Men: Dark Phoenix
  • Previous
    Aubrey Plaza, Mark Hamill, Brian Tyree Henry
    Next
    Gamecity
    ::: - :::
    Aubrey Plaza, Mark Hamill, Brian Tyree Henry
Selefu
Matsapa di a tsaya kae?
Banners
tuzla evden eve nakliyat izmir evden eve nakliyat
Banners