Wholehearted Attention, Part 1:

Teaching and learning tends to occur differently in music classrooms versus other classrooms. Other teachers have difficulty understanding the teaching process and in a standards-obsessed education climate as such, music activity is not always appreciated or understood and ultimately funded. Music classes do not lend to being part of a checklist. This does not mean that discrete objectives do not exist. Music making is extremely complex. By separating music making into all the small components, it leaves out the crucial aspects of what music is all about, dissecting it into an incomplete picture. However it is true that an accomplished musician should have a systematic set of knowledge and abilities. They should have a technical proficiency on an instrument or their voice and a working knowledge of music history, theory, repertoire and more. A successful musician will have a secure understanding of the rehearsal and performance process in regards to their own abilities and psychology and in the context of collaborating on music with others. The content of which a musician must master is usually presented in the order of necessity. Musical concepts usually build upon previous knowledge and can act as means of assessment. But what a music teacher does in a classroom is much more than this. Music plays a unique and important role in our culture and appreciation of music is a hallmark of the educated person. There is something fundamentally different about the music-making process. Performing calls upon a complex set of operations on more aspects of the human being. Students who sing in choir must maintain physical awareness. They must be actively listening to the sounds they are producing in conjunction with the sounds around them. They are reading and interpreting a notation system dictating what the sounds they should be creating. And finally, they are creating a work of art and thus must provoke the correct emotions eliciting the kind of performance they desire. The concentration and focus to work on all of these tasks at once is great.