This is a story by Stephen Covey that I found some time ago. It is an extract from The 3rd Alternative: Solving Life’s Most Difficult Problems. It totally fits with the spirit of The Story Circle Model of Education that I am taking into the world. Music is one of the pillars of the model and this shows how powerful music can be to help teach every subject in the classroom including Mathematics.
You can read more about my thoughts on Music and Learning in my recent online article in Medium.
A women we’ll call Nadia could see that her little daughter was crying as she came out of the school carrying her violin case. The eight year old sobbed to her mother that her teacher would not allow any more music in class. All that night Nadia, a trained violinist herself, became more and more angry – she couldn’t sleep thinking about the disappointment on her daughter’s face – and carefully planned a tirade to let loose on that teacher.
But in the morning Nadia thought better of it and decided to find out exactly what was going on at the school before launching her attack. She went early to see the teacher before class. “My daughter loves the violin,” She said, “and I’m wondering what has happened that the children can no longer practice at school.” To her surprise, the teacher began to cry. “There is no more time for music,” she explained, “WE must spend all of our time on basics like reading and mathematics.” It was a government order.
For an instant Nadia considered an attack on the government, but then she said, “There must be a way for the children to learn music and their basic skills.” The teacher blinked for a moment. “Of course, music is mathematical.” At this, Nadia’s brain began to whir. What if the basics could be taught through music? She stared at the teacher, and both began to laugh because both had the same thought at once. The next hour’s rush of ideas was almost magical.
Soon Nadia was volunteering what time she could in her daughter’s class. Together, she and the teacher taught every subject using music. The students did fractions with not only numbers but also notes of music (two eights notes equal a quarter note). Reading poems was much easier when the children could sing them. History came alive as the children studied great composers and their times and played their music. They even learned a bit of different foreign languages by singing folk songs from other countries.
The synergy between the musical parent and the teacher was as important as the synergy between music and the basics. The students learned both – and quickly. Soon other teachers and parents wanted to try it. In time, even the government got interested in this 3rd Alternative.