Why shouldn't popular music be the main ingredient in elementary school music program?Why shouldn't popular music be the main ingredient in elementary school music program?
I think that a case can be made for popular music as not containing the basic elements for children to know as part of a rudimentary music program. The basic components of a music program such as fully comprehending the issues of tone, harmony, melody, as well as compositional structure might not be as present in modern music. One could probably find these elements in classical music or music from other time periods and these might be better suited to be foundational for students who are emerging into the study of music. Modern music might not be as well equipped to reflect such concepts in operational definitions, which might be why it could be more advantageous to feature music from other and older time frames in such a program.
In my opinion, the content of popular music of today is not very kid friendly. I can think of very few songs that do not contain elements of nasty language, sex, violence, drugs, pain, etc. Children at this age do not need to hear those kinds of things and it definitely should not be any part of the curriculum. The content of these songs cannot even be understood by children at the elementary school age. They really need to listen to music that is more age appropriate. I know if I had a young child that came home and told me that they had listened to some of the music that is popular today, I would be quite upset. I think it is really important for children to listen to music with positive messages embedded in them.
I can think of many reasons why today's popular music would not be appropriate for elementary school children. Many popular songs--especially in rap and hip-hop--have lyrics with references to sex, gender bias, and violence. Profanity, street slang and ungrammatical language are also examples of what not to teach impressionable, young children. Some popular music is, of course, perfectly acceptable, but young children learning introductory music basics should begin with songs that can be understood and contain a simple message. There is a multitude of music, both old and new, written by songwriters expressly for children, and a wise teacher would use such examples in the classroom.
Just to add a somewhat different note, are there note some examples of good contemporary music that can be incorportated into elementary education? I am thinking of my kids and their love for shows such as Hannah Montana or High School Musical, which do promote different values and make serious points about issues facing young people today. I completely agree that there are vast swathes of music which I definitely do not want my kids to be exposed to, but there are some examples of positive values that are presented through this medium. Are we not in danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater?
I don't see why it shouldn't be, especially if the kids in this school are really interested in it. There are so many different subjects and ideas that could be investigated by kids if they wanted to look closely at music and the ideas and various things that go into it.
I think our current fixation on math and science and english isn't necessarily the best way of going about things, so I am not suggesting that it should be the main focus of all curriculum, but a school that does that would and could be a great one.