Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - February 25, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta
THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD - THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 1971 Music universal medium By MISS J. D. LARSON Music Suerrisor School District Ne. SI Music is a universal medium of emotional expression. The prevalence of music in our modern culture and the normal urge for rhythmic expression is even more prominent with the added field of television. The child hears music everywhere about him: at home from the radio and television, at school, at the skating rink, at church, at restaurants and sports events. This was perhaps not always so, when music was heard mainly at church and in the home. Modern inventions have given us many greater opportunities for listening and watching all forms of musical entertainment. Some of the greatest pleasure derived from music is in actual participation in various farms of musical activity. Our general aim in teaching music in the elementary school is to develop a reasonable amount of skill for actual participation in some form of musical experience and to foster appreciations, interests and tastes to enrich the cultural life of the child in his early years at school and Fine art involvement N. C. JOHNSON Art Supervisor Letkbrldge Public S.D. No. 51 A time to do; a time to create; a time to appreciate; a time to learn; a time to be an individual. Such is the case when a student becomes involved in fine art Whether he is carving a piece of soapstone or solving problems which arise in a water color, the student can perhaps be himself more so than in any other field since he or she is able to put a bit more of his "self' into the project undertaken. But the art program has more to offer than just letting the child be a person. The student is given a chance to learn abut the elements of Hue, color, harmony, balance and bow they relate to his everyday life; he learns to take a new look at his environment and perhaps realize that trees are beautiful and should be preserved; mat buildings can be designed to be functional as well as be aesthetically pleasing; that junkyards and used car lots degrade the landscape; that billboards and signs are man made items which blotch the beauty of nature. He learns to open his eyes and see again - the pattern of telephone lines against the sky; the hoar frost hanging on a wintry morn; the crunch of snow underfoot as one walks along; the color of the sunset on a summer night; the aurora borealis etched against the northern sky. Why, one asks, does a child need this? Should he not bo studying history, learn i n g to read, understanding the meaning behind the Viet Nam war? Perhaps if the child learns to look and see, through art, bis reading will be helped. Perhaps if he learns to appreciate such things as sculpture, great paintings and the natural world around him. there would be no Viet Nam wars. Then again, if he studies artists and their work, he will realize that they, as well as explorers, had a great influence on our culture. But are such abstract entities as being an individual, learning to see, and learning to appreciate, enough for the student who is soon to become an adult? How will art help the student in a practical manner. Obviously, every student involved in art is not going to become a great artist! In this age of computers, so- ciologists and scientists inform us that man's leisure time is on the increase. What better way can an adult spend his lei. sure time than weaving, painting, sculpting, doing a batik, or throwing a pot. One says "that takes years and I don't have time to learn about such tilings." Perhaps if batik or sculpture or ceramics bad been experienced by one in one's school years, one could now say, "my art experience in school was a good one and I don't necessarily need to be a great artist to create. I can create to please myself and that to me is important. Tonight I will not worry about the pressures of business; I will paint or I will sculpt or I will weave. Whether one looks at art from a practical or an attitu-dinal pomt of view, one must conclude that while fine art is just one part of education, it is indeed a very important part The student has the opportunity to do, to think, to experiment, and to create. A time for learning By MRS. L. BARB Fleetwood-Bawdcn Another successful art lesson has been completed. With special pride the children hang their finished products. "Yes, that dull wan does look better. The mountings match the color scheme of the room, too. The boys as weU as the girls just loved that media." The teacher underlines that idea to be repeated next year at the same time. Is the purpose of the art program to beautify the classroom? Perhaps the mastery of several media and the creating of exaggerated objects is art? We may well ask if the student feels a change in his outlook and a new awareness of his surroundings or has he made a picture for a wall, or an ornament for his shelf? Art class for the student must be a time of learning rather than a time of entertainment. It must be a time of manipulating a media for the purpose of expressing his innermost feelings. These feelings are aroused and then developed with the help of an understanding teacher. By using an art program based on perceptual, creative, and social growth it is to be expected that the pupil will increase his awareness of life. The art program is designed around the child. The child is given an opportunity to open his eyes and look at his environment. He is helped to find his place m time through the study of how our past affects his life. The teacher's role is to help the child add his contribution through the stimulation of his creative potential. In this way be is able to open his mind to all learning processes and to see the overall plan of his environment. "Why teach art if it isn't for fun? You surely don't believe Johnny will become an artist!" We have heard these remarks many times. Art education does not aim to produce practising artists. Its aim for the students is quite different. No one believes that we teach arithmetic to produce mathematicians, or learn to write to become authors. Many people are skeptical of the value of our modern art program - "What is it?" is the muffled remark, or "That doesn't look real." These people remember the good old days of measuring and centering some shaded object. It was all very tidy. No clay and paint in the hair or all over the hands. Today our art program aims to produce healthy, individualistic citizens. This statement is understood by people who have studied child psychology or have graduated from a modern art college. But to a great many intelligent, well - educated parents and teachers this is an unbelievable idea. The art program is not designed to train a child in precision skills in order for him to make a living. It teaches a more important necessity - that of being himself. This is a small entity in a complex world. All learning should assist the child towards this end. The purpose of our modern art program is to take the child as he is and allow him to express what he sees and feels in his own way. We do not attempt to make him use skills be does not possess to produce an adult version of his environment, neither do we wish to burden the gifted child with too much praise and high expectations. The gifted child must be left free to explore Gelds where he may fail on the first attempts. This brings us to the idea that art can help children become good citizens and surely the objective of afl good teaching is to produce well adjusted citizens. Good citizens are people who stand up for what they believe, are alert and sensit! e and able to think for themselves. They abhor pretense and sham and let the world know bow they feet Bach child is a unique creature with his own right to look at the world in his individual way. If be is to develop as be grows into adulthood he must be helped to see what is real and what is merely sham and conformity. Children easily hide their creativity and conform to the masses - eating the same food, wearing the same clothes, drawing the same peace sigrs, and repeating the same slogans they see all about them. A few attempts at teenage revival of creativity were met with misunderstanding and never burgeoned again. These young people may be the ones who express themselves quite differently when pressure "blows up" inside them. Teachers have the vital task of keeping the creativity alive thus helping hundreds of young people to remain persons with their own gifts to contribute to their community. Merely because a child has a limited vocabulary doesn't mean his experiences are limited. A child perceives for the first time every day of his life and is fuled with a desire to communicate bis feelings to someone. If this someone understands the child as the modern art program teaches he will then look at this child's picture in a very special way. A very small bit of understanding will have passed between two human beings and the world will be a better place for it through his later years as an adult. The easier of the two is the development of a reasonable amount of music skill in performance with the voice or an instrument, as this is a more tangible form for measurement. The choice of the vocal and choral aspect is obvious since each child is possessed with this built-in instrument. Beginning with Grade 1 and having the twi-fold aim in mind, we begin to foster the development and appreciation of music. Since music has such a social aspect engulfing emotions ranging from joy to sorrow, love of home, country, church and school, the scope is unlimited. One of the most loved forms in the early grades is the sieging game. It offers physical rhythmic expression, alorg with the art of story telling, dramatization and group activity. This naturally leads to the development of singing traditional folk muse which children instinctively enjyy and love, As a result, their curiosity as to the customs, folk dances and musical instruments of peoples of other countries may be aroused. The next step in the development is the production of two-part harmony vocally. Care is taken that each child is given the opportunity of singing both first and second soprano, melody, descant, and ostinato. This training improves the powers of concentrated lore thinking. Each of our sehcols is equipped with small instruments such as rhythm sticks, tri-angles, bells, tambourines, small hand drums to add rhythmic orchestrations to some of the selections studied. Included in these percussion instruments are such Latin American instruments as the borgo and ccnga drums, claves, guiro, maracas and shakers; To provide harmonic accompaniment, the schools are also equipped with Tcne Fduca'cr Bells which are perfectly pitched. With the advantages of the wealth of A-V materials now available and new music readers so carefully p-Dr.ed to provide a sequential musical growth from kinder garten through the entire school years, the music program in our schools shcula blossom and flourish.