5 music teachers share the transformative power of music education

For centuries, music education has been recognized to positively increase students’ holistic and lifestyle learning outcomes, but music education in the United States in both public and private settings has seen a steep decline over the years. of the last decades.

Witnessing this, a new wave of music entrepreneurs, performers, content creators, and instructors is taking the music education space by storm. These instructors are leveraging various forms of technology and their personal social platforms to tell inspiring stories of their journeys and share best practices in the field. Their work has inspired a new wave of learning in person, virtually and through hybrid methods.

Below, five artists-turned-educators discuss their inspiration to become teachers, the importance of music education, the challenges they’ve witnessed in the field, and the innovative ways music education can evolve in the future. coming.

Darlene Machacon: elementary general music teacher, choir director, podcaster

Practice: 20+ years

Teaching: 10+ years

Instruments: Piano, general music, choir

Location: Garden Grove, California

Darlene Machacon was inspired to teach music by the train scene in the movie The Chronicles of Narnia“The film’s composer scored a beautiful musical moment that immediately inspired me to want to make music for the rest of my life,” she told GRAMMY.com. Today, she teaches elementary general music from kindergarten through sixth grade and leads a fifth and sixth grade choir.

Machacon believes that “music is essential because it is all around us” and aims to dismantle the idea that music education is limited to learning to read traditional notation. “Our young people deserve a music education that connects them to what they experience outside of classroom walls and challenges them to make a positive impact in their communities,” Machacon said.

While the trip was enjoyable, Machacon notes that music teachers often have to work beyond contracted hours and experience a lack of work-life balance. They often take bigger classes, earn less pay, and feel like music isn’t a “real” subject. Despite these challenges, Machacon sees a shift in basic general music lessons, moving from “singing from old textbooks and reading notes” to making immediate, relevant connections to keep students’ interest outside of school performance sets.

Those connections could include opportunities to play in rock and pop bands, Machacon suggested. While music production and design courses could pave the way for sound designers, music producers, music video creators and their peers.

Ian Levy: assistant professor, hip-hop specialist

Practice: 20+ years

Teaching: 10 years

Instruments: trumpet, master of ceremonies

Location: New York, NY

Ian Levy remembers being introduced to hip-hop and hosting as self-expression tool and emotional development in college. He later turned to hip-hop-based interventions as a school counselor, using lyric writing, recording, and performance as therapeutic tools. In youth-created recording studios, Levy students share emotional experiences and systemic injustices by writing and releasing songs, and creating album covers and music videos.

And while this work creates a culturally sustainable counseling service, helping young people develop stress coping skills and emotional self-awareness, Levy’s methodology has often been questioned. Some professors view these classes as students “just having fun”.

“Education tries to define how young people should sound and develop, often at odds with who they really are,” Levy said in rebuttal. “A challenge for hip-hop in the school board is to help young people trust their ways of knowing and be able to live authentically in a world that limits self-actualization.”

In the long term, Levy believes that music education should transcend mere music education and be used as a counseling and teaching tool in various subject classes.

Ashley Keiko, Music School Owner, Performer/Performer

Practice: 20+ years

Teaching: 15+ years old

Instruments: Piano, saxophone, flute

Location: Queens, New York

Ashley Keiko ventured into music at the behest of her parents, educators who owned a martial arts studio. Keiko was very involved in the studio, and one day her mother encouraged her to give piano lessons to a student. Word spread quickly and Keiko’s student population grew. At 25, Keiko owned and ran her own school, Keiko Studios in Jamaica, New York.

Keiko’s work has evolved considerably over the years. “For many years I taught private piano/saxophone lessons to students of all ages and remember practicing my teaching style in countless schools, concert and jazz bands, general music education , choir and more,” she says. “Now I oversee 14 instructors with over 130 students and focus on big projects.”

Yet Keiko is challenged by the fact that others don’t understand the value of music teachers’ time and music education as a whole. She hopes having more conversations about music education will change her perceived value. She finds the solution in creative ways, incorporating more accessible technology into the music education experience. With countless music websites, apps and software, Keiko believes the learning process for students can be more enjoyable and productive.

Brandon Toews, Content Director at Drumeo

Practical: 15 years and over

Education: 5 years and over

Instruments: drums, percussion

Location: Abbotsford, British Columbia

Brandon Toews’ private music teachers inspired him to get into music education. When he started working for an online drum teaching company, Drumeo in 2014, Toews witnessed the exponential global impact music education could have on a large scale. For the past seven years, Toews has filmed educational content for Drumeoworking with many of the best drummers in the world including Dennis Chambers, Simon Phillips, Jay Weinberg, Hannah Welton and Steve Smith.

Believing that “music education is key to creating more musicians in the world and helping them find their unique voice”, Toews was challenged to create content that serves and connects those with different styles. different learning.

Each of Drumeo’s approximately 30,000 students learns differently, he notes. To this end, the platform uses “step-by-step video lessons to conceptual videos focusing on creativity and musicality, or digital tools and technologies to practice exercises with notation”.

Toews finds music education can be innovative by becoming more engaging, fun, and increasing the practice tools and apps available to musicians. “Information is so widely available, but effective practice tools are still scarce,” he says.

Kate Warren, Freelance interpreter, educator

Practice: 15 years

Education: 4 years

Instruments: French horn, trumpet

Location: New Haven, Connecticut

“Growing up, regular lessons weren’t something my family could afford,” says Kate Warren. “Because of this, everything I learned outside of the classroom came from instructional books, blog posts, podcasts, and YouTube.” Using these resources has increased his interest in giving back to the field.

To date, Warren has maintained a private studio, written a book on French horn pedagogy, ran a social media page focused on music education, and taught marching band. His most recent project is a series of beginner French horn videos for students through a partnership with instrument makers Conn & Selmer.

Warren found that music education can provide students with “healthy outlets, lifelong friendships, and essential skills for life.” However, she has found that gender representation is still an issue in music, especially in brass playing.

To provide an informed solution, she conducts research to help institutions diversify their hiring processes. Warren also found that social media influences how young people interact and seek out learning experiences by more freely disseminating the knowledge and experiences of creators.

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