Allowing Their Voice

When we challenge students to find the voice within their musical expression, we often create boundaries (intentionally or otherwise) that can alter/enhance the expressive perspective of the students. If we do not allow for relevance and limit them to our expected expression, the investment and creation generated from the students is fundamentally different. I do not believe there is wiggle room there, it is “fundamentally different.”

When I hear of pop artist redirecting their performance to fit the boundaries of others, I am always intrigued at the level of artistry invested in such a short amount of time. I recently came across the Ed Sheeran version of Aguilera’s “Dirty” and, the more I learn, the more I am impressed at the entertainment value within such a short deadline.  It is not about my attachment to Sheeran, or the original version by Aguilera, but an appreciation for the depth of expression voiced through this arrangement.

In other settings, artists accept the challenge to mix genres and alter fundamental characteristics in order to share new perspectives. In a conversation with McCay, the challenge of remixing Holst Suite in a “Dubstep” style came up that emulates so much of the perspective of the students in my ensemble classrooms.

If we, as educators, recognize that our students have a multitude of perspectives and musical experiences that can be expressed in THEIR relevant ways, we will be surprised with the conceptual understanding and creative expressions that students generate. Limiting them to a specific style of expression will alter their voice. As educators, we must reflect on the implications of such boundaries. Are we creating musicians like us? …or facilitating space for students to be “them“?

Would you express through text, color, sound, or……? Here’s Harry’s expression…


One Response to Allowing Their Voice

  1. Gene Gill says:

    Fantastic ideas!

    but this would be my consideration, just another thing a forward thinking music educator (teacher, facilitator, guru, wilderness guide) needs to consider and balance..

    All styles of music are a tradition. While there is a huge range of music being made that students will enjoy and look to explore i would argue that no students will come to a musical space completely spontaneously.

    I believe my love of music is derived from listening, and when i play the music i love it is first and foremast important for me to sound “authentic”. This is best achieved with the help of a master player, or peer group. All genres transcribe, seek out master players, emulate, re-create and elaborate.

    There are so many resources online that a student can easy be pushed too and stick with you tube tutorials as their teacher. While these can be great resources, a true player of the music will have advice, knowledge and a level of understanding of the music that they will be able to give the student in an interactive way.

    In this mixed media/ mixed genre world the possibilities can seem endless, and I 100% agree that we should let our students explore what they would like to create, but all musical innovation and creativity comes from a deep understanding of the music, musicians and culture that came before.

    I would just caution that in encouraging our students to seek their own music, we don’t leave them alone. We should encourage them to seek out teachers, opportunities, and communities where the art that inspires them lives, breaths and influences change.

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