Today’s edition of Starting Monday isn’t really a quote, rather a statement made by one of my professors recently.

I am taking a course in the pedagogy of music appreciation, which is proving to be one of the most beneficial courses I could take during my time at USM. In our first class, my professor stated that the students taking a music appreciation class are listeners of music, but they can’t always explain why they like the music they do, or why they don’t like other music. 

While that is one of the main goals the class, meaning getting students to converse about music in an educated manner, the next thing he said became my new point of view for the class; a class I previously had felt to be a challenge and a burden at times. He said, “Music plays a vital role in a world. It acts as both a mirror and a lamp in our society.”

Music As A Mirror

Music is always going to paint an image of the current state of our culture. Musically, it will display the current trends in style. Lyrically, it can deal with current social issues. We can always listen to popular music of a particular era and understand a glimpse of that culture and time.

For composers and creators of music, music as a mirror reminds us who we are as an individual.

As listeners of music, we can trace our own history with the music we listened to. Recently on Facebook, some high school friends were listing their top 10 albums of their teenage years. Everyone’s were so different and definitely encapsulated who they were at that age, or even better, who they wanted to be! 

Activity: Have your students make a list of their top 10 favorite albums/artists/songs from a certain point in their life, and have them determine why they felt that music best represents them at that time. Also, have them determine why they liked that music, and if they still like it. 

Music As A Lamp

Music has a way of exposing us to the things which we are not always aware. The first music that comes to mind when I think of music being a lamp are songs of unity. When a tragic event occurs, there is always a song that surfaces as a means of coping of consoling. 

For students enrolled in a music appreciation class, music is going to be a lamp for new genres of music. There is so much music that goes unnoticed, and our job is to expand their listening horizons, or at least expose them!

Activity: Have your students think of a song or artist that acted as a “lamp” during a particular dark or troubling time. Then, have them think of a way your ensemble can act as a lamp for others. Consider the repertoire you are working on, the audiences you will be performing for, and their own class experiences.

 

Take time this week to think about music as both a mirror and a lamp, and what that means for you and your students!

 

Photo Credit: Image made with Word Swag

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