It seems that all literature in my possession these days has this common theme: COLLABORATION. Whether it is Michael Fullan referring to education reform and the need for schools to be redesigned, and for various levels of collaboration (teacher, school, community, etc.), or it is Charlie Hartsoe giving us a history of the NRPA, with including a community music specialist on staff (collaborating with agencies locally, nationwide, and internationally)…the message is COLLABORATION.
In the public schools, or at least here in my (former) employer, the move toward collaborative operation was, at least, attempted. “Academies” were designed with teams of teachers developing integrated lessons (unless it is the “engineering academy” where the program was purchased…), and within some departments, more focused attempts were made to be consistent in the content delivery.
As a music department, it becomes less clear and a bit more murky. At my school, we kind of collaborated — every two years on the full musical; and most every spring, although it’s a stretch, for the area band/orchestra festivals. I mean, we accomplished these activities together, but to say we “collaborated” for student learning may be a stretch.
Meanwhile, down at the elementary schools, the option to learn an instrument was eliminated. Sure, the students “go to music” once per week, but the added level of active music performance and instrument learning is not an option until 6th grade — and that is if you go to one of our middle schools that allows you to have an “elective.” You see, in our “unified school district,” all aspects are not unified.
What resources are in our communities already? What resources are on these 29 or so elementary school sites? How can we COLLABORATE to provide opportunities for young citizens to learn an instrument? How do we, to use a farming metaphor, plow through the potentially fertile soil of our elementary school population to become a healthy, thriving, and growing community of children learning to play instruments, both individually and socially?
You can find a way to “pay to play” at some places in the area, but how can this be an integral component to our community growth? How do we come together, in spite of standards and credentials and unions, to do the right thing? Can we? Should we? Are there interested parties out there?