A MUSIC AND FINE ARTS “HOW-TO”

Everyone loves an amazing performance! Students and teachers alike thoroughly are pleased by the sense of accomplishment that comes from weeks of hard work, bursting with excitement and joy! Parents and Administrators also take pride in their children/students and their school. But producing enjoyable performances is only one aspect of a balanced music education and fine arts program. How can we be sure our students are receiving a quality education in music and the arts? Perhaps more importantly, why should we be concerned with music education/fine arts in the first place? Is it even necessary?

To understand the importance, purpose, and role of music education/fine arts in Christian school education, we must remind ourselves of one of the foundational purposes of Christ-centered education: the development of the student in the image of God (Horton, 1992). Such a development encompasses all aspects of a student’s life, including the nurturing of the student’s music/arts aptitude and the development of the student’s music/artistic abilities for worship and service. Music/Fine Arts education, therefore, is a vital component of Christian education, not a mere recreational hobby. Here at Christian Life School, we value deeply the fine arts and music education and the fine arts is particularly crucial to fulfilling the mission of the Christian school.

GUIDELINES FOR MUSIC/FINE ARTS GROWTH

  1. Curriculum/Programs. As with any academic subject, the music/fine arts curriculum should be designed as a year-round, sequential learning program built on core concepts and experiences. Music instruction should begin in preschool with an emphasis on singing, playing simple instruments, listening, creating, and movement activities. General music instruction for all students should continue throughout the Elementary school years and should provide students with basic music literacy and performance skills as well as an appreciation for God-honoring music. Instrumental instruction should begin around grade 1 for strings and in grade 4 for winds, brass, and percussion. 

Here at Christian Life School, we offer a wide array of elementary music instrumental offerings:

  1. Beginner Orchestra grades 1 – 6 (first-year string students)
  2. Cadet Orchestra grades 2 – 6 (second-year string students)
  3. Encore Orchestra grades 3 – 6 (3rd, 4th, or 5-year students based on when their studies began).
  4. Beginner Band grades 4 – 6 (first-year band students)
  5. Bravo Band grades 5 – 6 (2nd/3rd-year band students)

The middle/high school level should include the following instrumental music offerings:

  1. Middle School/High School Band grades 7 – 12
  2. Middle School/High School Orchestra grades 7 – 12
  3. Other instrumental ensembles include: Jazz Band, Percussion Ensemble, Flute Choir, String Ensemble, Woodwind Ensemble, Pep Band, Pit Orchestra (for musicals)
  4. Other music offerings: Music Theory, AP Music Theory

Other equally important fine arts classes/events include the following:

  1. Middle School/High School Choir grades 7 – 12
  2. Middle School/High School Theatre Arts courses grades 7 -12
  3. Acapella Vocal Ensembles
  4. Fall Play
  5. Spring Musical 
  6. Variety Show 
  7. Christmas Concert with Alumni
  8. Ministry to local Nursing homes and Activity centers.
  9. Fine Arts Trips (to various locations around the country for either competition or performance)

At the secondary-level, instrumental music/fine arts offerings should instill in the student a ministry-minded approach to the performance of many styles of music repertoire, literature, and theatre art classics. At CLS, we endeavor for the students to use their God-given musical/arts gifts every day in activities of worship, service, and enjoyment with a rich cultural and historical heritage.

Click HERE for Christian Life School Music/Fine Arts Achievements and LEGACY of EXCELLENCE.

2. Scheduling. Sufficient instructional time is essential to providing a quality music education/fine arts. Music courses should meet a minimum of twice per week for a total of 90 minutes at the elementary level  At the secondary-level, ensembles/classes should meet daily and should not be scheduled against required courses. Administrators, teachers, and parents should regard music courses as regular classes, guarding against infringements of allotted instructional time because of athletic events or other avoidable interruptions.

3. Instructional Materials, Equipment, and Facilities. Adequate supplies of textbooks, sheet music, recordings, sound equipment, and instruments, as well as appropriate rehearsal space and a secure storage area, are the bricks and mortar of a quality music education program. A library of several well-crafted, age-appropriate, pedagogically sound, God-honoring music/fine arts resources and compositions is especially important for teaching concepts and motivating students to learn. Many music/fine arts teachers do not have the resources they need because of limited funding in the school budget. At CLS, we have and are addressing those needs through the support of the Administration. This past school year, we created a CLS Fine Arts Boosters team to creatively look for alternative funding options, judicious fundraising efforts, excited and very supportive volunteer parent base,  and partnerships with local business owners. The Fine Arts Boosters has also started a Fine Arts Booster Giving Levels program to continue our vision to expand the Fine Arts Program and raise capital for future endeavors! We are THRILLED to see this grow! Other various education improvement grants are available/offered through private foundations and other non-government organizations.  

4. Staffing. Qualified music/fine arts teachers are critical to a biblically-based music/fine arts education. In addition to a Christ-like disposition and a burden for ministering to young people, teachers should possess a mystery of performance skills sufficient for modeling a high degree of musicianship for their students, a thorough knowledge of the cultural, historical, and theoretical foundations of music/arts literature, and an understanding of pedagogical techniques and materials appropriate for a wide range of ages. All music teachers, regardless of their qualifications, should have adequate opportunities throughout the year for professional development in specific music disciplines (e.g., paid release time for attending music education workshops and conferences). Music/fine arts teachers should also have sufficient time in their daily school schedule (a minimum of 30 minutes) for instructional planning and assessment.

5. Administrative Support. The administrator, as the school’s educational leader, is the catalyst for improvement. Without active support in terms of scheduling and basic resources, little can be accomplished. Parents and teachers who view their administrator as willing to set and pursue realistic, biblically-based goals for improving music/fine arts education in their schools will be more likely than not to lend their equally important support in the form of time and finances. At CLS, the Administration is 100% behind the Fine Arts Program and continue to NURTURE, STRENGTHEN, and GROW to NEW HEIGHTS!

Conclusion

Ask yourself the following:

  • Is sequential, year-round music/fine arts instruction available to all students in your school?
  • Are your students receiving the foundation they need to be well equipped for God-honoring worship and service now and in the future?
  • Are your music/fine arts teachers receiving adequate professional development and support?

Developing a strong music/fine arts program involves sustained effort and patience, requiring everyone to thinking beyond the next performance, event, or activity. Whether your school has a well-established music/fine arts program or perhaps a small, struggling one, be sure to include the music/fine arts program in your school improvement plan. Take time to identify opportunities for improvement, set measurable goals, and redouble your efforts to put the biblical principles of music/fine arts education into practice.

For more information on the essential characteristics of the best schools, download our free eBook to help you make well-informed decisions for your student.

References 

Horton, R. (Ed.). (1992). Christian education: Its mandate and mission. Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press.