“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” ~ Victor Hugo
Mrs Jillian Fox’s love affair with music began when she was a child. Hailing from the west coast of Canada, she began studying music in Germany and completed her studies in Canada. Her career in teaching has allowed her to travel to Egypt, China, and now the UAE. She shares with Teach UAE Magazine her enthusiasm for the subject and some useful tips that work inside her music classes.
Why did you become a teacher?
I had the advantage of a musical upbringing. My father studied music and was a secondary school music teacher for nearly thirty years, so I grew up seeing and experiencing the benefits of Music Education. I also have a passion for Music and Literature as subjects, and such passions are meant for sharing! I became a Music teacher with the hope that other children would benefit from music as much as I have. I believe that music makes people better. Who doesn’t need a little of that in today’s world?
What are three key advantages for students learning to play an instrument? How does this contribute to their overall development?
Music and the playing of instruments teach students to work well individually as well as in a team. They develop skills that are valuable in their other subjects, as well as, in their future careers and endeavours. They also feel good about their own accomplishments. Music builds communication skills and confidence. Students receive positive reinforcement and immediate feedback when they set musical goals and accomplish them – there’s nothing quite like it!
Music also addresses the whole child. It allows children to say things that can’t be said in any other way. It is an expression of their intellect, their emotions, personality, character, and values. One might say music educates the soul. It encourages empathy, care, and compassion in addition to the attainment of skills and knowledge.
Music makes you smarter! It inspires greater connectivity between the right and left brain. It supports the learning of languages as well as Science and Mathematics. Albert Einstein himself said that if he were not a physicist, he would have been a musician. He believed that the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination, and that this embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.
What are three activities that you do to encourage students’ love for music?
- We listen to a variety of different kinds of music – students know that their choices and preferences are valued.
- We create and make it personal – our lessons focus on taking what we learn and hear and making it our own in individual and group composition or performance. Students find more value in the music as it is their creation.
- We have fun! We laugh and play music games, and make a big deal out of small accomplishments. Weird music facts are a particular favourite… did you know the baton was only invented after the French Baroque composer Lully jabbed himself in the foot with a staff, and later died of an infection?
What advice would you give to fellow music teachers who are experiencing challenges with getting students interested or to focus during music classes?
- Find music they love. Make it relevant.
- Celebrate the small stuff!
- Encourage students to be open- minded, and to appreciate music in terms of what it offers musically.
- Be hands on. Let the kids make music and make it their own. Provide opportunities for positive feedback, and for sharing!
- Be tech-savvy! if your school has a studio or recording capabilities, let students know that class work could extend to recording sessions, CD production…or even studio sessions sequencing or recording live performance.
Mrs Fox’s passion for music coupled, with her love of teaching have resulted in a fruitful and productive learning environment for her students. It’s easy to see why her students enjoy the subject…her enthusiasm is contagious.