Music education has taken a new direction in recent years with a rock 'n' roll influence that teaches kids studio and stage techniques, plus instrumental proficiency and understanding.

Brian Hardgroove, Public Enemy bassist, moderated the 'Music Education That Rocks' session during the National Association of Music Merchants Show at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Brian discussed along with a panel on how several of today's music education programs are approaching this aspect of modern music training.

However, music classes decades ago were much more rigid and Brian believes that he would have pursued a musical career sooner if he was taught to play the popular music of his time.

"So if I was coming up in 1980, as I was in school in 1980, and if I heard "Back in Black", I would've loved it just as much as I loved it when I heard it at 20," he says. "Knowing how 'dope' AC/DC is and has always been, that would've been complete inspiration and I could've overcome whatever I was struggling with trying to technically learn music."

The panel agreed that more schools must offer music classes which reflect the interest of kids today, such as hip hop, pop, and rock music.

"Because that was the one thing that wasn't present. I wasn't inspired," Brian says. "Music is a discipline and if you are taking it on as a discipline and not as a casual listener, it's way too important to you not to be inspired."
Music teacher Emilie Rohrbach of Willow Creek Academy gives school kids the best of both worlds. They get to really learn how to make music and have fun doing it at the same time. She uses the Orff method , which introduces students to all aspects of music: singing, rhythm, movement, and literacy help children realize all that they can with each lesson.

Emilie likes to challenge the kids in her classroom by inspiring them often with music from guitarists of the 60s and 70s era.

"We listen to influential guitar players like Carlos Santana, Steve Ray Vaughan and Bonnie Raitt as well as different styles of playing," she says. "I believe it's important to share a wide range of music with students to really open their minds to what's possible with the music they create - this includes multi-cultural styles, classical, and modern rock."

Although Emilie teaches piano, flute, and guitar in other classes, she chose the ukulele for her younger kids because it provides advantages not seen with other instruments. For example, this sometimes overlooked miniature guitar fits quite nicely in little hands, making it ideal as a starter instrument.

"The ukulele is a lovely sounding instrument! In kindergarten through third grade our focus is Orff Schulwerk based, so we are learning how to play in a xylophone orchestra. Ukulele is a wonderful first step into the foray of string instruments and reading both chords and the treble clef," she says.

Emilie takes this fearless approach because she firmly believes that young minds are naturally capable of learning so much in the way of music. She says that some of her students will pursue a music interest long throughout their lives where others may "rediscover it" later on.

"I've seen children excited by what they discover in themselves through musical exploration - and yes, some might have a proclivity towards a particular instrument or their own singing voice. But music is a beautiful window for all kids," she says.

With so many distractions and choices in the world of media today, it's often quite difficult to retain the attention of a child let alone to get them to actually participate and show a growing interest. Emilie recalls one such student who was a pleasant surprise in her class.
"I had a fourth grader last year who had a beautiful singing voice and was painfully shy. I knew she had this voice but she would get tongue tied in front of other people," she says. "She learned three chords on the ukulele and suddenly became a songwriter."

Emilie was so impressed that she had her class learn the song. The young girl overcame her shyness and performed it for family and friends on stage during the school's "Spring Extravaganza".

"She had the solo. Her glow when the audience gave her a standing ovation gave me goosebumps," she says. "It is why I am a music teacher. Music has the power to be incredibly transformative."

The Foundation would like to say thank you to  Guitar Center  and  Cordoba Guitars for their contribution of ukuleles and acoustic guitars.
Music In Our Schools Month
For more than 30 years, March has been officially designated by the National Association for Music Education ( NAfME ) for the observance of Music In Our Schools Month ®  
(MIOSM ® ), the time of year when music education becomes the focus of schools across the nation. 

The purpose of MIOSM is to raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children – and to remind citizens that school is where all children should have access to music. MIOSM is an opportunity for music teachers to bring their music programs to the attention of the school and the community, and to display the benefits that school music brings to students of all ages.

MIOSM and the events surrounding it are the ideal opportunities for increasing awareness of the benefits of high quality music education programs in our nation’s schools. NAfME hopes that teachers, students, and music supporters alike will find ways to join in on the celebration through creative activities and advocacy.
We'd like to know what teachers/parents are planning for MIOSM this March.
Offering special performance
After-school lessons
Bring a parent to music class
School/classroom sing-along
Contact my rep to support music ed
Musical Mischief
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