In the early 20th century, life was difficult for many people Japanese people affected by the end of the feudal era, which resulted in mass migration to countries such as Brazil, where they found plenty of work in the agricultural sector.
More than 100 years later, descendants of these Japanese Brazilian families find it easy to get visas to the Land of the Rising Sun, but you can imagine the culture shock that children experience once they arrive. Thankfully, music teachers such as Rafael Kinoshita know that their chosen discipline can make a difference in the life of these migrant children.
In a recent profile published by the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Kinoshita explained how musical education helps children adjust to their new environment. Mr. Kinoshita knows that the parents of his students do not have an advantaged socioeconomic status; to this effect, he only charges a nominal fee for his lessons, which feature Brazilian musical staples such as the rhythmic samba and the smooth bossa nova.
Since he is forced to keep a low overhead, the cash-strapped teacher is only able to furnish and equip the classroom with:
* A Bluetooth speaker that connects to his smartphone.
* A map of Brazil.
* A guitar, a violin, and percussion instruments.
The cash-strapped Mr. Kinoshita hopes that one day he will be able to get enough funding to get teaching materials and other classroom essentials for the benefit of his migrant students. Here are some of the items he would probably be interested in:
Music and Rhythm Games
Playtime is the work of children; they feel that it is their job to discover the world through games and enjoyment. Mr. Kinoshita sticks to traditional sing-along games from his native Brazil, but living in Japan means that he could search for used video game consoles for his students to play titles such as:
* Space Channel 5
* Guitar Hero
* Dance Factory
Most of our Prodigies lesson plans, particularly those designed for learners between the ages of 3 and 6, features games and other playtime activities because they are proven to be extremely effective in terms of advancing knowledge and developing skills.
A Map of the World
For the time being, Mr. Kinoshita makes do with a map of Brazil because he is focused on teaching children about the places they or their parents come from. As time goes by, he will likely introduce a map of Japan, and he may as well look into putting up a world map that will enhance the next item on the list.
By virtue of the migrant experience of his students, Mr. Kinoshita’s classroom is already international and bilingual, but he can always take things a little further with a recording such as “Kids World Party” from the renowned Putumayo label. The songs in this album feature traditional music from various countries; they are children-oriented, which means that they are ideal for dancing and singing along. Some of the tracks include:
* “Sanalwami” by Sharon Katz from South Africa.
* “Freeze Dance” by Tom Freund from California
* “Nadie” by Monedita de Oro from Mexico
Some musically gifted children believe that their talent is highly introspective; while there is nothing wrong with this self-interpretation, it is better for children to realize that music is the true universal and unifying language.
A good classroom activity to combine with listening sessions of these songs would be to point out on the aforementioned world map where the musicians are from and their respective languages.
Let’s keep in mind that musical education does not exist within a bubble; when geographic and cultural skills can be sharpened during lessons, teachers have really done their jobs.
All music teachers dream of seeing a classroom where every student has his or her own instrument, but this will not always be the case. With younger students, particularly those that are just starting to show their gifts, it is up to parents and educators to introduce a variety of instruments for the purpose of getting an idea which the students will feel more comfortable with. The Prodigies program includes five instruments that are easy for children to play:
* Toy piano
Having a variety of instruments in the classroom is helpful for both teachers and students. A child who falls in love with the toy piano will likely ease into other keyboard instruments; a student who is proficient with the recorder may pivot to other wind instruments, and a child who keeps a good beat on the desk bells or xylophone may find affinity with drums, percussion, or bass.
Educational Toys and Games
The main difference between music teachers and music tutors is that the latter are specialists while the former are educators. Both are able to teach, but students tend to mostly learn about playing music with tutors. With teachers and parents, on the other hand, children learn about living their lives with music. The best music lessons are those that go beyond playing instruments, singing, and dancing; to this effect, music classrooms should also offer educational games and toys that are not necessarily related to music. For groups of preschool children, for example, picture dominoes are highly recommended. Age-appropriate puzzles and special card games such as “Feelings and Dealings” would also be ideal in a music classroom.
This is not an issue at home since parents will have access to the medicine cabinet, but it is a must-have for all other classroom environments. One of the most important items to include in this kit is a list of emergency contacts.
Other items would be alcohol wipes, band-aids, elastic bandage wraps, a thermometer, gauze, tape, skin lotion, and antiseptic soap.
Of all the fields of academic formation, musical education is one that has been able to retain the tradition of using old-fashioned books for instructional purposes. There are a couple of exceptions in this regard: electronic dance music (EDM), as we all know, has gone completely digital and does not really focus on books too much.
Another exception is singing, which is largely audiovisual. With regard to learning instruments, however, sheet music and textbooks are still very much in use, and this is wonderful. Age-appropriate books focusing on music are not hard to find. As students grow and become more comfortable with their favorite instrument, biographies of great musicians can serve as a strong basis for inspiration.
Reading plus music education is win-win situation for students, parents, and the future of music in general.