"Music is the greatest communication in the world."
- Lou Rawls
On March 1, during a media literacy event at Loyola University, Maryland, Tommy Ender, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Fellow of the School of Education presented "Creating Counter-Narratives in Contemporary Times." All the presentations I witnessed during that day were impactful but this one stood out. It struck me as a bit unusual because it focused on using music in the classroom. My reaction stunned me a bit because "using music in the classroom" seems pretty obvious. However, I don't think it is to many of us. When we discuss media literacy education, I think we often forget about music on its own. It's almost like music is a forgotten medium. I know in my syllabus "music" is discussed in terms of "music videos" and often on the very last day under "all the stuff we didn't get to this semester." While we are busy talking about social media, decoding advertisements, and analyzing documentaries, the pure act of listening to music is often pushed aside.
Living with teenagers, I can see firsthand the impact music has on youth. Music is their greatest form of entertainment, their chosen form of communication, and the medium they spend the most time with. I hear them listening, singing, and creating music every single day. I know what kind of mood they are in by the music coming out of their rooms. When I want to engage them in conversation, all I need to ask is "what are you listening to these days?" Our go to birthday and holiday gifts for them are tickets to concerts. For my birthday last year, I asked them both for a playlist of music they listen to that they think I would like. (My daughter was spot on for the record.) Music is a big part of our lives.
This past week we were in Southern CA for spring break and my 14 year-old passed up a day trip to San Diego because Taylor Swift had a new song coming out that evening at 9pm.* Why would a 5 minute song release impact a whole day? I'm glad
you asked. There were Instagram hints, video clips, teaser posts and fan conversations happening all day. My daughter wanted to be part of the action, to share in the excitement, to be in the group of fans that heard the song and watched the video for the first time when it premiered. (Have you seen it? What are you waiting for???) It mattered so much to her because Taylor Swift's music has meant so much to her throughout her life. The music has helped her through tough times, given her so many moments of happiness, and inspired her.
Music has intense power. Music impacts us every day. The pure act of figuring out the music you love and the artists you will follow is key to deciding who you are as a person. Do we talk about music enough in our work in media literacy education? I am not sure we do. Should we be bringing it into the classroom more? I think we should. I've decided that next semester on the first day of class I am going to ask my students "what are you listening to these days?" and see what happens. It's worth a shot! Can you share with me where music fits in your work?
do not waste one more second. Check out the list of amazing presenters! Check out the information about the pre-conference events that are included in the price of registration! And, if that wasn't enough, check out these awesome Sharpies donated by our friends at #icanhelp. (And the picture of me when the boxes were delivered to my house! That's a lot of Sharpies, people!) Every attendee will receive a pack. Seriously, could you even find a better deal out there?!?!?!? Media literacy experts AND Sharpies!?!?! Does it get any better than that?
Michelle Ciulla Lipkin,
*Feel free judge me for not making my daughter go to San Diego. If you have ever met a 14 year old, I know you will understand. My husband and I are convinced it was the best decision for all of us!