Saturday, August 18, 2012

Music Education Failure

The Thirtieth Olympiad- London, England

Chris and I have really enjoyed watching the Olympics these past few weeks. In fact both of us have basically just sat around for two weeks watching the games. Each afternoon we would have a full DVR of Olympic coverage from London. The first week of the games we were glued to the TV watching the swimming and the gymnastics events. It was awesome to see Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps compete against each other in the swimming pool and amazing to see the tiny gymnasts tumble and flip all over and how can I forget the "Three-peat" gold by the US Women's Beach Volleyball team of Kari Walsh and Misty May! However, what was the best was watching the USA win not only so many medals but so many GOLDS!

I am a very proud American and I consider myself to be very patriotic. I found myself tearing up during each medal ceremony as our national anthem was played (although I did not care for the arrangement that was being played). But some of these years were not just for the national anthem, it was for the lack of patriotism and participation from our very own Olympic athletes. I think I was able to watch at least 15-20 gold Medal ceremonies and probably during 90% of them the athletes not only didn't sing The Star Spangled Banner but some didn't even put their hand over their heart.

It was sad to see some the best athletes in the world just stand there with no emotion on their face as the national anthem from the country they were representing was playing. I know winning a gold medal is a huge achievement but they were not only winning medals for themselves they were winning them for the entire country. As they stood on the victory platform they were representing the millions of Americans that could not be there or perform the events they could and singing the national anthem and participating in its functions shows all of American and the world that they are there for a greater cause. 

I was very disappointed as a fellow American but even more so as a Music Educator. I feel it is my job as a Music Teacher to instill a passion for music into all of the children I teach. In fact, now that I am solely teaching General Classroom music, that is my primary goal and philosophy inside my classroom. I want to make sure that when students leave my class at the end of they year that they have a Love for music. Of course I want them to learn to read music and play recorders and laundry list of other things but at this age, I want them to LOVE music. But I also feel that as an AMERICAN Music Educator it is my job to teach our students about the history of our Nation in the music department. First and foremost is the history and the story behind our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. 

Every year on September 14th our nation's elementary music classrooms celebrate "National Anthem Day". This is a day where music educators all over the USA teach their kids about the history of The Star Spangled Banner, its lyrics and it melody. I have for all 7 years of my teaching had a very special activity on this day and even made it into a week-long event that incorporates September 11th and it's history as well. I have activities and games that we play about the words of the song. We have competitions in the order grades to see who can complete the lyrics the fastest on the Smartboard. We have "Sing-offs" in our choral time and lots of other stuff. But as much as I do I was shocked to see these 20 and 30 year olds at the Olympics not sing the words to The Star Spangled Banner, I don't know if it was because they don't KNOW the words or just didn't sing/ say them but either way I feel it is a disgrace to our country. 

Some athletes were as young as 16 and 17 years old and still didn't know the words to the song. I watched as young female phenom Missy Franklin stood on the podium of her Gold Medal ceremony and did not sing or even mouth the words. She is young enough that she should have been getting the education about The Star Spangled Banner during "National Anthem Day" which started to rise in popularity in Elementary Music Classrooms around the nation in 2003. 

I know I am on a soap-box here but I am appalled at the lack of participation and Patriotism from our athletes on that aspect of the Thirtieth Olympiad. I feel as a Music Educator we are not fulfilling our job requirements and I think this needs to be addressed ASAP! I know I will continue to do my part and I can only hope and pray other music educator and teachers in general will do the same. 

I am PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN and I will continue to help our children feel the same way! 


God is good... All the time! 

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