It is highly likely that we are all teaching new music.
Reading music is so natural for all of us who've completed college degrees and taken piano since we were children. Like speaking a language fluently, reading music feels natural to us.
...And it is highly likely that most of us whose families were able to afford to have a private tutor at the piano or other instrument also had lots of help from involved and engaged parents who helped us learn to actually read letters and words a bit earlier than children who did not.
During the early part of my career as a choral music educator in urban public schools, I never really considered the challenges of reading words on the page while also trying to sing correct pitches and rhythms.
Think about it...
The words on the choral music octavo look so odd.
"See the love-ly birch in the mea-dow.
See the leaves a-dancing when the wind blows.
Loo-li look when the wind blows."
Think like a 6th grader...
"Um. What are those dashes? Why do they matter to me? And why do we skip all of those lines with notes on them? Do they mean anything? OHHHHHH. That word is "meadow"! Why is it separated by a dash?! What do these weird words mean? What is "a-dancing"? Who says that?"
And we wonder why they can't sight sing the pitches and rhythms too AND do the diction correctly?!?
They can't even read the words in this odd new world of choral octavo!
We must remind ourselves that all language learning takes lots of time.
If we move to France in January with no previous experience with the French language, do we become completely fluent at reading, writing and comprehending all forms of the French language by July?
Music is a language just like any other.
The students sitting in front of us just want to sing and enjoy the process of learning and our job is to help find ways to make that happen.
So, this week, I challenge all of us to dig deep to find ways to meet our students where they are and to make real learning happen in the public school classroom with children who don't come to us with all of the best advantages.
...And share those ideas with your peers freely.
With 21st century technology, it's become so easy to share.
Have a great week next week!