I wanted to share something that I was excited to share with our advisory board in training a week or so ago, and with Shelly Metzger today in an interview for Thurston Talk. At TIA we are mission and values driven. We value children and we value people. This should be a given in any school or community organization. But it has been exciting, humbling, and a challenge to see how these values have caused me to reconsider even my teaching methodologies and approaches over the last year or so because of these values.

What happens when a student is either unwilling or unresponsive to traditional music education methods (like reading traditional music notation)? Do we just write them off? Do we tell them we cannot teach them? Do we dismiss them as a student?

I’m going to be totally honest and tell you that I have considered in some cases telling mom or dad that a student just may not be ready, and that maybe we need to revisit things down the line when they are willing to learn to read music. I am deeply concerned that students do learn to read music (for the sake of music, for cognitive development, for so many reasons). But would this be valuing my methodology and philosophy of music above children and people? As I reflected on that question, the answer was simple.

We have a few students at TIA that have stretched me in this way. In fact, we have an entire class that I have redesigned completely in order to better meet the needs of a few students that have this struggle. I still have a plan to work in traditional notation and reading eventually with these students, or attempt to. But in the meantime, they are still learning music, chords, and theory, and I pray having fun. We value each one of these students, and in fact, I thank them for challenging me, and perhaps, maybe even making me a better educator.

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