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MENTORING Richard Cangro, Chairperson

Now is the Time to be Daring!

Happy New Year! In Hawaiian–Hauoli Makahiki Hou! In Italian–Felice Anno Nuovo! And for our Kodály fans, in Hungarian–Boldog új évet! Every new school year is a fresh start. Every new school year brings a new metaphoric sticker-chart of music achievement for students, and another chance for teachers to facilitate artistic music mak- ing with their ensembles and classes. Many teachers have taken professional development courses and are anxious to try new ideas. Most, if not all educators, have hopefully taken some well deserved time off to recharge their batteries, and are now ready to get on the roller coaster again with new drive and resolve to make a diff erence in the lives of students. If there was any time to refl ect and make some changes to improve on what we do, now is the time!

Imagine learning in a class when everyone speaks at the same exact time. T e teacher asks a question and everyone answers the question, out loud, simultaneously. Now imagine that the entire class could only answer the teacher’s question when the teacher points to them. Other than that, everyone is silent for the period until the teacher asks another question. Never are you asked for your individual contribu- tion. Never does the teacher even know your voice, regardless if you are correct or incorrect. T ere is never an opportunity for individual accountability, divergent thinking, creative solutions, or inde- pendent growth. T en you graduate and enter the world never having expressed your own thoughts. Most jobs expect you to have an opinion and individual contribution. Sounds ridiculous, right? Now refl ect on your ensemble and their experiences. Do your students ever have a


chance to express their individual musical thought? Many times in jazz ensembles, some individuals get to improvise a solo. But by and large most music students, especially in performance ensembles, never have the opportunity to show the teacher their level of music literacy through writing, or their level of musical understanding through improvisation.

Below is a pertinent quote regarding the preparation of students as independent thinkers and doers.

In the wake of No Child Left Behind– a policy that in practice, if not design, trades curiosity for accountability, creativity for standardization, and col- laboration for each child’s ability to fi ll- in the entire bubble with a #2 pencil– those people committed to reimagining the future of education must revisit the most fundamental questions about our central role in preparing citizens of the twenty-fi rst century. If the challenge of twenty-fi rst-century education is to prepare future generations to address the complexities of a world they are certain to inherit, our task as educators is to create a pedagogy that empowers our students to see themselves as agents of change equipped to address the most pressing problems around the globe and down the street.

(Sheridan-Rabideau, p. 1)

T e theme for this IMEA issue is “Nurturing Creativity.” T is paradigm begs teachers to refl ect on what they value as musicians and as music educators. T e challenge is to bridge your musical values with your music education priorities. Good musicians

Sheridan-Rabideau, M. (2010) Creativ- ity repositioned. Arts Education Policy Review, v111, (2), p54-58.

Richard Cangro Western Illinois University Macomb, IL 61455 309.298.3114 |

Illinois Music Educator | Volume 72 Number 1

value the ability to confi dently read and write music, as well as perform at a very high level. Providing opportunities to notate, improvise, arrange, and compose deepens music literacy and provides teachers a true, in-depth look into a student’s level of music comprehension. Most of all, these opportunities for creativity provide students a chance to express an individual musical voice, versus being limited to only contributing when everyone else is “speaking.”

It is easy to go along the familiar, well- traveled road as teachers. Making time to nurture creativity for your students may be the road less-travelled. Be daring this new school year. T ink about how you can nurture your students’ creativity and eff ectively develop independent musicians. T ink about creating a benchmark for a grade or level you teach, and add an opportunity for your students to create some music, be it composing, arranging a piece, or improvising a melody or variation. Now’s the time! Good luck and best wishes for a great year!


Brinkman, David J. (2010) Teaching creatively and teaching for creativity. Arts Education Policy Review, v111, (2), p48-50.

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