Week 3 was a breakthrough week in the course of my summer project! I talked to four families and confirmed that their children will be participating in a pilot program for the curriculum I am designing. My interaction with the school and my research has led me to decide on an initial class for this curriculum, a “Basics of Music Creation” class. This will initially be for children ages 12-16 with at least a year of private instrument instruction. I am starting this class with four, to be expanded to eight this fall. I also found an instructor for the fall! How exciting that this is actually happening!
An important issue that I ran into this week was the issue of cultural sensitivity. I realized through several conversations that there are many issues in teaching music that need to be considered. I learned classical piano and classical composition. I played western European music written by dead white guys. Performance was secondary to discipline, and music was always something I valued because I had put a lot of blood and sweat to develop my skills. Music was not necessarily fun. It was like a job. I was the most important thing I did as kid. I was never asked what I wanted to learn, what music I wanted to play, or what I wanted to do; I was told. This should not be the way music should be taught, and it's not the way I teach my guitar students. Kids at W.O. Smith do not want to learn dead white people music. If you ask them, they would say they want to learn to play what's on the radio because that's the music that's relevant to their lives. More specifically, most of these kids listen to rap and hip-hop, which appear to be a far cry from classical music. I want this class to be fun and entertaining, and I want kids to want to take it. In order to do this I have to make a class that is relevant to their lives and not teach dead white people music. I have to get on their level and teach them what they want to learn.