Noa Daniel asked me about it, Tobi lives it, and Amanda inspired it.
It’s no secret that music has a powerful effect on the classroom and when I allow students choice with music, I feel like I get to know them better. Music has been playing in the background for most of my life and it’s only now making a more conscious appearance in my thinking and teaching. Music really has defined my experiences, my memories, and it has now come into the foreground of my mind.
To explain the three influences mentioned above, Noa Daniel had me as a guest on her P3 Podcast where educators share three songs that define them. Tobi’s partner is a cellist in the National Arts Centre orchestra and she manages the stage (and yes, she is also a full-time teacher – don’t ask me how she does it, I’m sure she has a twin sister or she doesn’t sleep), and Amanda found an incredible interactive article in the New York Times called “25 Songs That Matter Now“. She used it with her class and claims that the students, “LOVED it”. These three have been musical influences on me, although I think they don’t actually write or perform it.
Nonetheless, today I asked students about music, about reviews of music, and I am encouraged by what they had to say.
The conversation started with Ana mentioning the content of the songs that were selected. “Most of them have an important social message that’s necessary to talk about now.” And Tarek pointed out that a few of the songs were circulated widely because of TikTok. Angus focused in the reviews themselves and made lists of the types of metaphors in the musical reviews noting that one compared the music to art and the act of drawing, another used the language of war, and the third was personified as if the music performed an action. Ciaran followed this by explaining that the metaphors, the imagery, and the heavily connotative language allows the reader to connect while Anna noted the reviews self-consciousness in the connections they made to the music.
And then I asked what surprised them; “Cats” they said. They were surprised that a song from what they deemed “a bad musical” had the honour of a song “that mattered”. They wondered about this choice so I reminded them to consider the publication as a whole, and it’s cultural or geographical location as a potential clue. James made the connection instantly saying, “Broadway”, and the significance of context, reviewer, and content was made.
This free flowing discovery of meaning allowed me to point out the ever flowing negotiation with a text, the triumvirate of author, text, and reader. I had to dance with the lesson never quite knowing but allowing the music to flow and trust those who helped me find it. Thanks Noa, Tobi, and Amanda for being my musical muses.