Characteristics of Texts, Part 1

Read the following two passages about music classes, noting what they have in common and where they differ.

Passage #1: “Music Education”

Music education is a field of study associated with the teaching and learning of music. It touches on all learning domains, including the psychomotor domain (the development of skills), the cognitive domain (the acquisition of knowledge), and, in particular and significant ways, the affective domain (the learner’s willingness to receive, internalize, and share what is learned), including music appreciation and sensitivity. Music training from preschool through post-secondary education is common in most nations because involvement with music is considered a fundamental component of human culture and behavior. Music, like language, is an accomplishment that distinguishes humans as a species.

During the 20th century, many distinctive approaches were developed or further refined for the teaching of music, some of which have had widespread impact. The Dalcroze method (eurhythmics) was developed in the early 20th century by Swiss musician and educator Émile Jaques-Dalcroze. The Kodály Method emphasizes the benefits of physical instruction and response to music. The Orff Schulwerk “approach” to music education leads students to develop their music abilities in a way that parallels the development of western music.

At the university level, students in most arts and humanities programs receive academic credit for music courses such as music history, typically of Western art music, or music appreciation, which focuses on listening and learning about different musical styles. In addition, most North American and European universities offer music ensembles – such as choir, concert band, marching band, or orchestra – that are open to students from various fields of study. Most universities also offer degree programs in music education, certifying students as primary and secondary music educators. Advanced degrees such as the D.M.A. or the Ph.D can lead to university employment. These degrees are awarded upon completion of music theory, music history, technique classes, private instruction with a specific instrument, ensemble participation, and in depth observations of experienced educators. Music education departments in North American and European universities also support interdisciplinary research in such areas as music psychology, music education historiography, educational ethnomusicology, sociomusicology, and philosophy of education.


Passage #2: “Why Music Lessons Need to Keep Up with the Times”

Some 150 years ago, if you wanted to listen to music, you would have to perform it yourself or be in the presence of musicians.

With Thomas Edison’s phonograph in 1877 came the ability to record music. At that point, the ways that people could be musical changed forever. Humans could artfully organize their musical worlds around recorded music that they did not necessarily create themselves.

Since then people have engaged in an endless array of musical endeavors that have been recorded. In fact, the ability to record music has shifted our musical experience – from both a maker and a consumer perspective.

The question is: has students’ learning kept pace with these changes that started happening more than a century ago? Or, is it way past time for music education to undergo a metamorphosis of sorts, as some scholars have suggested?

I teach music and conduct research in the area of music curriculum development. What is currently offered in music classes is almost exclusively large instrumental and vocal ensembles that perform under the direction of one person. However, there has been a fundamental shift in how people experience music in the world. I believe music classes today should teach students to create, record and share their music that comes from their personal interests.

School doesn’t teach the music students love

The average American adolescent listens to music for approximately 4.5 hours per day. So, 18 percent of all of the time in their lives is spent bathing themselves in the sounds that inspire them.

Much of the music that adolescents listen to is created digitally and produced through software, keyboards, touch pads, guitars and drums kits. However, music in the schools is based on conservatory models of musical transmission with roots in Western European art music.

Furthermore, classical music accounts for merely 1.4 percent of music sales in the world. Yet, nearly all school music offerings are classical music-based.

So, we have a supply-and-demand crisis in school-supported music teaching and learning. Music classes do not offer what most students want to learn. As a music teacher in the state of Michigan for nine years (before becoming a music professor), I saw many students who loved music, but just didn’t love the school music options. Only 10 percent of students at the secondary level nationally end up enrolling in music classes.


Question 1

Which of these passages did you enjoy reading more? Why?


Question 2

What differences between the two passages stand out to you? Type these differences here.


Question 3

What similarities in the passages are apparent to you? Type these similarities here.


Question 4

Both passages here are excerpts from longer essays. Which of these would you want to keep reading to

  1. gain a deeper understanding of the history of U.S. music education?
  2. convince a friend to enroll in a college music course with you?
  3. prepare a presentation for a school board meeting about how to attract more students to music classes?