Music Education Issues Discussed at Wolf Lecture

November 04, 2011

Dr. Cynthia Taggart, professor of music education and area chair of music at the Michigan State University (MSU) College of Music, presented the Wolf Lecture on Thursday, November 3 at the University of Mount Union.
Taggart discussed Changing Landscapes in Music Education: Issues Facing Music in the Schools. She expressed the various challenges facing music education, reasons why students are becoming less interested in music and how educators as well as future educators need to make some serious changes in music education. She used her own experience with her two sons’ musical involvement and statistics to help illustrate her opinions on this issue.
“Teachers today make the musical decisions rather than helping students find their own musical voice,” said Taggart. “The teacher should serve as more of a facilitator than a dictator.”
She emphasized that rather than telling students what to do, teachers should turn children loose and get out of their way, letting them explore on their own. Drawing from her personal experience as a both a parent and an educator, Taggart explained that students are much more likely to be drawn to music when they are permitted to experiment with music that reflects their own personal interests. Taggart also mentioned that music education curriculums should include increase and diversified course offerings such as courses in composition, improvisation and guitar.
“Higher education must lead the way,” said Taggart, when discussing the current issues in music education. “There is a need in preparing future music teachers.”
Taggart concluded her lecture with an amusing video of music students from Michigan State University who performed an assignment they were given in class. The video helped reiterate the examples Taggart suggested on how to give students more freedom within a music classroom.
Recipient of the prestigious MSU Teacher-Scholar Award, Taggart directs and teaches in the early childhood education music program at MSU. She served as president of the College Music Society from 2008 through 2010.
Prior to joining the faculty at MSU, Taggart taught at Case Western Reserve University, where she received the Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award for the Humanities and Social Sciences. She also has extensive elementary and preschool teaching experience in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Well known for her research in music education, Taggart’s research interests include early childhood music, measurement, psychology of music, music learning theory and music aptitude. She has co-authored and co-edited numerous books such as Jump Right In: The Music Curriculum Grades K-6, Learning from Young Children: Research in Early Childhood Music, The Development and Practical Applications of Music Learning Theory and The Early Childhood Music Curriculum: Experimental Songs and Chants. Taggart’s work also has been published in many academic journals including Journal of Music Teacher Education, Perspectives, Early Childhood Connections, Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education and Journal of Research in Music Education.
Taggart earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from the University of Michigan as well as a doctorate degree in music education from Temple University.

The John and Eleanor Mincks Wolf Lecture in Music Education and English was established with gifts in 1999 and 2009 to honor the memory of John ’47 and Eleanor (Mincks) Wolf. John was a teacher of music for 30 years in the Strongsville schools and Eleanor was a teacher of English and Latin in Richfield and Highland school districts. Distributions from the endowed fund are used to bring professionals in the disciplines of music education or English to campus.
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