Kathryn A. Copeland
This project is an Alternative Culminating Experience for a Master of Arts in Education: Curriculum and Instruction with an Elective Emphasis on Arts in Education. It follows Pathway II: The art of teaching art. The culminating experience for this project was guided by the author’s motivation to gain knowledge and develop expertise in playing the guitar, and by applying those skills to teach fourth and fifth grade general music students utilizing the guitar as an additional teaching tool in the classroom. The author had adapted her teaching style for this project by implementing creative opportunities for her students to become familiar with a variety of well-known American and multicultural folk songs. By introducing folk music from around the world, the author was confident that her students would acquire an appreciation of cultural diversity and a greater understanding of the historical and musical significance of folk songs. Interdisciplinary connections and integration of the arts as part of the core curriculum are a major focus in this project. The value of group singing in the schools with regard to the positive effects that often result from such blending of efforts and raising of voices within a community is also explored. Because the guitar is portable, and one of the most commonly used folk instruments throughout history, the author determined that the guitar was the instrument that would be most logical to use to accompany students in the classroom. This realization was the beginning of her journey to achieve the playing skill level necessary to successfully accompany her students. The author’s research verifies the importance of arts experiences as a positive influence in the development of well-rounded individuals. Through a creatively designed curriculum, executed by skilled specialists who value the learning process through true aesthetic experiences, the arts reach the level of importance they deserve. The contents of the literature review reveals basic philosophies of noted educational theorists and reflect the importance of a creative approach to arts education and its applications in the elementary general music classroom. Numerous studies have shown the positive effects of music in student development and academic success, and it is the author’s intent to provide experiences that increase the possibilities for higher levels of creativity and participation. Through the inclusion of folk music and the use of the guitar, the author expects students to benefit musically, academically, socially, creatively, and emotionally.