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Manifesto: The Place of Music in 21st Century Education


September 5, 2020
Posted by: Amy Panetta

As a preface to this assignment, I would like to reflect upon this course.  I stumbled on this particular module entitled The Place of Music in 21st Century Education on out of a need for professional development hours in order to renew my music teaching license.  While this credit is important, I do like to utilize this time in order to update my own knowledge of current trends in music education and to learn valuable new skills at this particular time. 

I took part in webinars taught by many music teachers in the United States hosted by the National Association for Music Education.  However, after completing about eight hours of webinars, I wanted a different experience -- engagement in a different way with current trends that were not necessarily from the public school perspective.  I served as a public school music teacher for several years before my I taught in a number of different educational settings such as in independent school approaches, such as Montessori, Waldorf, charter school education with a focus on environmental sustainability, college preparatory schools, and I observed a number of different schools, such as Reggio Emilia, free schools, courses for homeschoolers, Classical Conversations homeschooling approach, and others.  In the past four years, I decided to teach independent instrumental lessons to mostly home educated students and experienced the many different approaches used in each household.  With my background, it is no wonder that I desired for more diverse professional development opportunities than ones taught strictly from the public school setting.


The reason why I had meandered from one teaching approach to another throughout the years is that I wanted to experience many different philosophies to see which ones best engaged students.   Through this Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), I was able to engage with different music teaching approaches, especially ones that are the most cutting-edge and relevant.  I was able to be confronted with many questions and had the ability to think critically about the role of technology in education.  

In addition, I was able to reflect powerfully on the journey of one of my current students, Jesse, who is 17-years-old and has been unschooled for all of his life.  Before Jesse began piano lessons with me four years ago, he tinkered around with the piano, playing by ear.  He wanted to be able to continue exploring the music he loved by playing by ear, but he also wanted to have a great foundation of music reading.  We began our work with an Older Beginner method book to learn to read the music, while Jesse was able to freely explore music that he enjoyed.  He would surprise me week after week when he would learn huge chunks of lush piano arrangements that interested him.  He did this mostly by using YouTube piano tutorials.  Many teachers and parents are opposed to using these videos, but honestly, it takes a lot of hand-eye coordination, memory, using one’s ear, time, and a whole lot of patience to work through pieces in tutorials, especially more complicated ones.  In order to reach my students, I kept, and continue to keep an openness to different approaches.

Joy is an important human emotion that should be felt when learning music, and it has been a privilege to witness this in Jesse.  His success is a great example of the beauty of auto-didactic learning and the ultimate project-based learning!  While he enjoyed his exploration, Jesse steadily built a good foundation in reading music.  Now he is at the point where he is actually prefers to read music over using music tutorial videos. 

Jesse has also taught himself how to create lo-fi (low-fidelity) remixes using FL Studio.  On a whim I told him about a favorite song that I used to play when I was about his age called Misty, which has now been used in a lot of lo-fi mixes.  Jesse then learned Misty on piano and decided to create his own Misty remix.  During the stay-at-home orders of 2020, it was necessary to employ usage of technology in more unique ways.  Jesse and I brought our music-learning online and he performed Misty in an online music recital occurring through Zoom, the video conferencing application. 

In my own teaching, besides this exemplary experience with my student, Jesse, what place does technology and music have in 21st century education?  While I do utilize the curricula of established piano curricula, I do utilize other opportunities for improvisation, composition, and learning in different ways.  For instance, I enjoy teaching my students a C-Blues scale and 12-bar Blues  accompaniment pattern.  Learning the scale can lend itself nicely to improvisation, composition, as well as exploring another genre besides common American folk tunes and beginning Western Classical music.  Like my lessons with Jesse, I often inquire about what favorite songs my other students have and obtain appropriate arrangements for them to learn or utilize tutorial videos on YouTube.

In order to continue to grow as a music teacher, I want to take the free courses offered by Ableton Live for kids hosted on their website, as well as a Berklee College of Music online course for teens and adults.  I would also like to continue to use up-to-date and appropriate materials for music teaching that emphasizes pluralism, as well as instrumental method books that do not promote stereotypical notions and misappropriations of different groups and cultures. 


Through the provocations of this course, I will continue to be a critical-thinker of my own teaching as a practice and help students be captivated, engaged, and inspired by music.  In addition, the goal of music education, whether it utilizes technology or not, should help bring people to a state of what Hungarian social psychologist Mihaly Czikszentmihaly terms, flow, which is a pleasurable, health-promoting state where time seems to stand still and individuals want to return again and again (Czikszentmihaly 2000).  As an educator, I provide the container from which students can have these profound experiences and I seek to guide and mentor them every step of the way with openness, flexibility, and pluralism.  


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Beyond boredom and anxiety. Jossey-Bass.


Reflection on Electronic Music and Project-Based Learning Opportunities

September 3, 2020

Posted by: Amy Panetta












Is Media-Rich Technology the Answer for Music Education?

September 3, 2020

Posted by: Amy Panetta










Balance in Music Education
September 3, 2020

Posted by: Amy Panetta


In the majority of the 20th Century, many music programs within schools in the United States and Canada focused on Western classical music history and folk music primarily coming from English-speaking cultures, with a movement toward multicultural music from the 1980s onward.  In the 21st century, there is a movement to include a rich diversity of music, including Western music history, as well as American popular music, and cultural music from around the world.  However,musical topics within the learning environment can be even better balanced to include an even wider variety of music, including genres that truly speak to students.


Ethan Hein from New York University discusses how Classical music shouldn`t be taken away from anyone.  He states, “I personally think [Classical music] that it's lovely, but it just doesn't grab me the way that John Coltrane does or the way that Run DMC does or The Beatles or Michael Jackson or any of a million other things”  (Hein in Humberstone 2016).  While he might feel pulled to these popular artists, not all children are drawn to popular music or are even exposed to popular music in their homes.  I work with a variety of home educated students.  Some student’s home life may be steeped in the Christian, Orthodox Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, and other faiths, as well as local folk music such as French Canadian, Appalachian, traditional cultural music.  Often children are drawn to the music that have meaning for their parents, which might include popular and country music, but it could also include a deep enjoyment in Classical music.  If a child is brought up in a home where a particular genre of music is valued, the child will often be drawn to that genre of music because of the sonic bonding that occurs in the home.  

If the school learning environment sparks curiosity and inspiration within a child, that child will be more apt to learning about a different genre of music than what is typically found in their home environment.  Teachers need to provide children with a balance of different genres to explore and ways in which the children can explore these genres in self-directed ways, as well as in engaging and interactive ways.  I agree with Richard Gill, OAM, in his statement about singing in the classroom:

It should be all vocally based. All music education in the preschool and the elementary years should be about singing, and it should be a wide range of singing. It should include classical songs and early songs and popular songs and spirituals, folk songs, world music, as much music as they can possibly get hold of. Because it's from the singing that they learn all the concepts. They learn how to read, they learn how to write, they learn how to improvise, they learn how to compose, and it's cheap. You don't have to buy expensive instruments and regular singing is a wonderful...But with the high school kids, every kid in high school loves music (Gill in Humberstone 2016).

However, it is important to understand that not all children enjoy singing.  If they are in the right school and environment, they will most likely enjoy singing.  But, due to a complex number of factors, it may not be completely possible for all children in a learning setting to enjoy singing.  Therefore, diverse experiences with music should occur, such as playing pitched and non-pitched percussion instruments using an Orff instrumentarium, exploring electronic music and engaging apps, as well as reading, writing, improvising, composing, and listening to a variety of different styles of music.  When students engage and have a relationship with a variety of different styles of music, including the ones that they know and love, the music in the classroom is no longer alien.  It is the task of a skilled educator to help students to embrace and be open to a wide variety of music.  

Humberstone, J., PhD (Director). (2016). Classroom Music is Alien.  [Video file]. Retrieved September 03, 2020, from


Humberstone, J., PhD (Director). (2016). Counterpoint.  [Video file]. Retrieved September 03, 2020, from


Technology and Music Education in the 21st Century 

September 2, 2020
Posted by: Amy Panetta, MA

In our current society, there are many competing views about how much exposure to technology children should have.  As an educator with a specialty in music, I have many opinions formed based on research as well as my own teaching experiences in a variety of environments.  I agree with many pediatric organizations, such as the current Canadian Paediatric Society and the former American Pediatric Association guidelines recommending that children under two should not have screen time, however, I would urge parents to increase the age bracket to age five if at all possible.  Early use of digital media has been associated with an increased rate of overuse when older.  Face-to-face learning from parents and caregivers are paramount at this age.  Language, cognition, attention span, and executive functioning may be negatively affected with use in early childhood (C.P.S. 2017). 

With regard to music, young children can have the very important experiences of play-based learning while learning songs, singing games, songs with hand movements, bounces, lullabies, finger plays, rhymes, creative moving to music, playing small percussion and simple stringed instruments like the kinderlyre and listening to as much live, acoustic music as possible.  Waldorf schools, such as Kamaroi in New South Wales, Australia, often engage students in these musical experiences (Humberstone 2016).

Ages six to 11 should have two hours or under of screentime (C.P.S. 2018) where they can explore cultural and historical research as well as videos of music performances of a variety of genres of music, in addition to singing a variety of repertoire, playing instruments such as recorder, simple percussion instruments, pitched mallet percussion instruments if possible, and the ability to take up an instrument like the piano, wind, or string instrument.  12 and above should have access to more screen time depending on their educational needs and projects.  Pre-teens and teenagers should have more access to screentime to enable them to be able to learn more autonomously and engage in such projects as using music notation software, do cultural and historical internet research, as well as electronic music-making and recording, such as the creative projects that occur at the Northern Beaches Christian School in Sydney, Australia (Humberton 2016).

In these guidelines for activities and technology use, young children are able to develop and have authentic experiences without the reliance on screens and technology, while adopting and utilizing technology at older, more age-appropriate levels.  Anna Craft discusses that individuals and organizations hold particular contrasting points of view that either children are vulnerable and are at risk in regards to the emergence of technology versus access to technology as a very important engaging and exciting tool (Craft 2013).  Both are true -- that while technology can be engaging and exciting, it is important to protect children and expose these growing and developing children to technology gradually.  Children should experience life without such a heavy dependence on screens for entertainment and educational value. 

Note: For an optional post, see the next entry discussing Technology and Music Education in the Midst of a Global Pandemic.  


Craft, A. (2013). Childhood, possibility thinking and wise, humanising educational futures. International Journal of Educational Research, 61, 126-134. doi:10.1016/j.ijer.2013.02.005

Humberstone, J., PhD (Director). (2016). Music class at Northern Beaches Christian School

 [Video file]. Retrieved September 03, 2020, from


Humberstone, J., PhD (Director). (2016). Screen Free Children [Video file]. Retrieved September 03, 2020, from

Society, C. (2017, November 27). Screen time and young children: Promoting health and development in a digital world: Canadian Paediatric Society. Retrieved September 02, 2020, from

Society, C. (2018, January 12). How much for school-age children? (5 – 11 years): Canadian Paediatric Society. Retrieved September 03, 2020, from

Technology and Music Education in the Midst of a Global Pandemic

September 1, 2020
Posted by Amy Panetta


Currently, I am taking an online course for professional development entitled, “The Place of Music Education in 21st Century Education” at The University of Sydney on  While the course was designed a number of years ago, it most likely could not have predicted the explosion of online and virtual classrooms due to the need to continue education when under mandated quarantine during a global pandemic for COVID-19.  It seems impossible to be able to address the future assignment topics without mentioning the current phenomenon of online learning that such a large amount of the globe has experienced during the last half of the 2019-2020 academic year. 

An assignment assessing my own thoughts about how much technology should influence music education would be much simpler if I were back in 2019 right now or if it is six months after we make COVID-19 disappear with a magic wand.  Currently, the world finds itself in a liminal, transient space, with much of the future that cannot be predicted with much certainty.  


At the time of writing, the world is at the very start of the 2020-2021 academic year.  Many children, teens, and young adults are reentering their in-person school or university setting, or beginning their college experience for the first time.  In some locations, like California, online learning is now mandated by the state government and in-person schooling is not allowed.  In other locations, some students attend online for part of the week and in-person for the other part of the week in a hybrid model of schooling during this pandemic. 

Many families who have decided to home educate in the past may continue to do so, whereas many locales are experiencing a surge in homeschool enrollments and many of these enrollments have doubled since 2019.  Many families who decided to withdraw their children from school and enroll their children in homeschool often did so because they had an interest in homeschooling for awhile and the uncertainty of the school environment was the added push they needed to enroll this year, whereas other parents are worried for their children’s safety when attending in-person, or were concerned that the safety measures would negatively impact learning and increase psychological distress.

Technology had such a huge, crucial role in education when schools were closed during mandatory stay-at-home orders in the United States in Canada starting in mid-March 2020.  As far as the year 2020, for a majority of cases, it is not about if technology should have a part in education and music education, but how much.  In music classes, some teachers did not have to prepare any lessons, some provided activity packets or online resources for parents to use at home, while others pre-recorded video lessons for their students to use at their own pace for the week, and even some teachers conducted video conferences with their music classes and even ensembles.  Some teachers created virtual choirs or bands by having their students send them pre-recorded videos of them singing or performing the repertoire while listening to an audio track to keep the tempo and the beat of the music.  Then, the teacher used the videos and fashioned them together to create online ensembles. 

Utilizing music technology and recording parts in the virtual ensembles is similar in some ways to what is done at Northern Beaches Christian School in Sydney, Australia, except that the students might not have been creating their own compositions or adapting written music at home as much, but they were most likely singing or playing music that was already composed by a well-established composer of the respective ensemble music. 

For home educating families, especially those who utilized similar educational approaches as was evident at the Kamaroi Rudolf Steiner School in New South Wales, Australia, they were able to continue to have very little influence of technology if it was possible for their family.  By utilizing many Waldorf homeschool curriculum, such as Oak Meadow, EarthSchooling, and Christopherus, it was possible to continue to teach without screens, especially for the young child and pre-teens.  However, those who normally attended Waldorf Steiner schools might have had a small increase in technology, being provided packets of educational materials, audio recordings of music to learn, and an occasional class video conference to attend.  

Through contrasting the various ways in which schools adapt to a global pandemic and still provide instruction demonstrates the unique diversity in schooling at this time as well as the usage in technology.  May members of society utilize technology at this time of societal change and uncertainty in new, unique, powerful, and creative ways to provide ever-important solutions.

New Online Learning Opportunities


August 27, 2020

Posted by: Amy Panetta

Did you know that you can take university-level courses for free on  If you are in need of credit, you can have the option of obtaining a professional certificate when your course is completed for a reasonable fee.  

Currently, I am excited to take these courses:

  • The Place of Music in 21st Century Education from The University of Sydney

  • Teaching Popular Music in the Classroom from Berklee College of Music

  • Music as Biology: What We Like to Hear and Why from Duke University

While these courses were originally designed to continue my professional development, I am experiencing a lot of joy from the engagement of these unique online learning opportunities, known as a MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses.  I am excited to continue to keep abreast of current topics and trends in music and music education which will inform my work as a music educator!

Speaking of free learning activities, here is a one for you or your loved one which will teach you a basic blues scale and blues accompaniment pattern!  What a wonderful way to try something new and interesting in your piano playing!

















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