This weekend the combined bands of Pender Harbour, Chatelech and Elphinstone Secondary Schools performed in front of  a large audience at Camp Elphinstone. The spectacular presentation demonstrated the talent and dedication of the students, the teachers, and the community to music education on the Sunshine Coast. A short clip can be seen here of the combined bands in action.

The benefits of a sound music education are well researched and have been understood for thousands of years. Plato wrote, “Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.” Martin Luther, just a few hundred years ago wrote, “Whoever has skill in music is of good temperament and fitted for all things. We must teach music in schools.” Modern educational research has consistently confirmed the academic, social and even physical benefits of music.

Music education is the epitome of modern pedagogy. Nowhere will you find better examples of personalized instruction than in the fine arts. Music teachers use formative assessment, positive reinforcement, and detailed and ongoing feedback with their students.  The student will have had many opportunities to refine his or her skills, using his or her preferred instrument, under the teacher’s guidance and support.  The final, summative musical performance is a demonstration of the many scaffolded steps that have taken place in the teaching and learning process. This weekend’s performances most certainly demonstrate our teachers’ solid grasp of what assessment for learning is all about.

In the face of competing time, priorities and resources, music education is central to a well educated student and, in many ways, is a model for instruction that other disciplines can learn from.

“Logic will get you from A to B.  Imagination will take you everywhere.”
–Albert Einstein
For further information on Formative and Summative Assessment please see this article . It is written from a Middle Schools perspective but is valid for all educators looking for a clear understanding of how formative and summative assessment can support excellence in education.