Our worlds through music

I'm a classroom teacher in Taiwan, both in music and in English. For music, I'm teaching primary and secondary school students at an international school, so I am fortunate to be able to still teach in English, and to teach a subject that I'm passionate about and have a lot to share on. 

This week, I have started sharing with the music students the traditional music of Japan. They had just finished a module on music in China, and I thought it might tie in nicely with the new topic, both musically and geographically.

As I step back and review my time left as a teacher in Taiwan, I feel that there is simply still too much to share before I head back to Melbourne. There is so much to learn about music - as an all-encompassing subject that has permeated through the human history in its culture and identity, all over the world.

I remember my music classes when I was in primary school. I remember being taught the usual basics of note-reading and the basics of the Western classical music history. I remember that at the beginning of each music class, the teacher will give us some arbitrary amount of time to bash through some xylophones, I believe the reasons being it as a physical outlet for the highly energetic boys in my class. I also remember the classes to be ultra boring, as I've already learnt all the basics of notation from my piano lessons outside of school. However, I do remember listening to my first symphony in class, and realised that the piano pieces that I was learning at the time was just one small part of what music is all about. Although, it was only in university that my eyes were opened to music outside the Western culture, and into the kaleidoscope of music that is part of the very intricate, complicated and delicate fabric of cultures and societies all over the world. Why are young children not taught this in the music classes earlier on in their schooling? The benefits are countless, not mentioning that it allows the child to become aware of the different cultures around the world and the universal differences in appreciating aesthetics, which all paves way for enhancing respect and curiosity for their world.  

I'm already starting to think about how am I to impart the importance of music in our societies to these students with the remaining time I have left here. There's so many aspects of music that is pervasive in our lives: Music and politics/power/control, music and identity, etc... Not to mention the different types of genres and subcultures of music there is now.

I have so many PowerPoint slides it is ridiculous! As I'll no longer be teaching here and, given the amount of research and time I've inputted for my teaching materials, it certainly is a waste if they are no longer used. Maybe when I finish my work here, I'll compile them in a way that could be accessible to those who are also interested to know more about their world, through the lens of music. 

- Natasha Lin

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