Start From the End, Don’t End at the Start

Over the past few days of this enlightening SMTE experience, I have been left with a persistent and nagging question… are we teaching our students to meet today’s standards, or are we empowering them to create tomorrow’s? For many, reflection on this will provide false security and validation. Unfortunately, many are chasing their tail, hoping for a new outcome and creative solution to the age old problems with music education. What if we didn’t try so hard to “solve” those problems? What if we stopped chasing our tail and just ran with the wind?

I can’t envision the musical opportunities that will exist in the next 5, 10, 20 years. A Freshman in college today could retire around 2060. How society interacts with music (creating, listening, etc.) has evolved at a rapid pace in the past decade. Assuming that pace continues (and most likely speeds up), we can’t imagine what the future holds. Therefore, how can we teach our students to facilitate a music class we don’t even understand?

If we start from the end, keeping music education as an open-ended and flexible idea, we can better prepare our students (and ourselves) for the future. Allow our students to be comfortable in open spaces where boundaries are not clearly defined. Where the only tradition is that we are not limited by traditions. Where the only expectation is that music is a part of the human experience and how that looks in a classroom is individualized, undefined, and unpredictable. And where tomorrow’s music is defined by tomorrow’s students. If we start from today and set a goal, we will achieve it (that is the nature of goals). If we start from the end and envision that there is no end, then we are better positioned to teach the future educators today.

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