Guest Blog Post Featuring Mundy Viar on Music Education

I am continuing my June “Blogathon” with the Article Writing Strategy of specific thematic posts for each day of the week. This post– originally scheduled for June 11, which was a Wednesday–was designated for guest blogging.  SO …today’s post features the writing of a fellow blogger and doctoral candidate,  Mundy Viar. His specialty, and focus of his dissertation, is music education.

 

School band concert  [Source: morgueFile free photos]

 

Here is his bio from his blog, Recreomusic:

Basil Mundy Viar, III, is a PhD student in the Transformative Inquiry Department at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, California, USA. He earned a Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of California, Berkeley; Single Subject Teaching Credential from the Bay Area College of Chapman University in Orange, California; and a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Community and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University of Richmond, Virginia, USA.

He is also a music teacher in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District of Concord, California, USA. In this role, he has discovered the need for a re-evaluation of the roles, purposes, and directions of scholastic music in a changing community and in a changing economy. The direction of his doctoral work is largely influenced by this experience, and he is researching the attitudes, levels of satisfaction, and lifelong learning effects of music training both inside and outside of the traditional school experience, with an eye on the roles that community based organizations may play in this.

Prior to his assignment as a public school music teacher, Mr. Viar served as a Program Director for the Blue Devils, an internationally revered youth organization dedicated to performance excellence, also based in Concord, California, USA. During his time with the Blue Devils, the “B” Corps was reinvigorated and performed with renewed excitement, proficiency, and levels of success. Under Mr. Viar’s guidance, BDB performed in the 1997 Drum Corps International World Championships in Orlando, Florida, and the 1998 World Marching Band Festival in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.

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Now onto what Mundy has to share with us today.

Music Ed Serves Many Purposes

I am drawn toward a pluralist perspective on the purpose, importance, and placement of music in our public and private lives. Music education sits at an intersection of interpretive and critical epistemologies. I understand music to be an opportunity that goes beyond the task of rudimentary mechanics of operating a manipulative (instrument); isolated, that is a mechanistic task. Music is a process-oriented experience, not to be solely defined by its measured outcome; in fact, in some cases, the outcome is irrelevant.

Music Research

Eisner (1991) asks whether or not everything can be measured, and suggests that researchers who are looking for a true measurement mistake the measurement for adequate subject matter; or, that the outcome is greater than the process. More than a half-century earlier, Dewey (1934) similarly stated that the artistic process, an esthetic experience, is itself a “mode of knowledge” (p. 302).

Music, as one of the arts, is open to individual and collective interpretation, and qualifies as an interpretive approach to knowledge, one that is individual, collaborative, and with objects (Hesse-Biber & Leavy, 2011). Of course, in this example, objects can refer to instruments, beaters, and other music-making devices. Music education encompasses a powerful term of social justice: education.

Music Education

At this juncture at the intersection of multiple perspectives of knowledge, public education exists as a “construction and reconstruction by people within evolving power-laden environments” (Hesse-Biber & Leavy, 2011, p. 20). Education constantly dances through ideology, ideas, and values of a current power structure.

As an educator, I see (music) education fitting within the framework of the critical strand of epistemology, especially the social justice-oriented strands of postmodernism. Legislation enacted to address the achievement gap between historically marginalized student constituents, especially African American, Latino, and students identified as requiring special education services, has been met with appropriate public intention but with mixed results.

Music Education…Eliminated?

Arts, music, and instrumental music specifically have been under attack in California, especially since the implementation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act revision of 2001. Even though “the arts” are identified as a part of the core curriculum, the reduction or elimination of the courses is regularly identified as a result of the need to address NCLB-guided proficiency issues (Music For All Foundation, 2004).

The business of education, and the inclusion of music education, is messy. Music education can stand as the great equalizer of people, as suggested in Csikszentmihalyi’s (1990) and Lisk’s (1987) theories of flow and peak experience.

References

  • Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
  • Dewey, J. (1934). Art as experience. New York: The Berkeley Publishing Group, 2005.
  • Eisner, E. (1991). The enlightened eye. New York: MacMillan.
  • Hesse-Biber, S., & Leavy, P. (2011). The practice of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
  • Lisk, E. (1987). The creative director: alternative rehearsal techniques. Galesville, MD: Meredith Music Publications.
  • Music For All Foundation. (2004). The Sound of Silence: The Unprecedented Decline of Music Education in California Public Schools. Retrieved from http://music-for-all.org/sos.html

 

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Mundy, thanks for sharing your knowledge and valuable insight here. I know I benefited from music education throughout my own primary school years. I agree with you that music education is valuable and certainly should remain a part of the core curriculum in public education.   I appreciate you being my second guest blogger for this Article Writing Challenge!

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Blog readers–what are your thoughts about music education? Do you agree that it adds value to the core curriculum for learners at primary grade levels, and should NOT be eliminated?

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