Why Teach Music?
It was one day in April of 1999 that I was at my job, making deliveries in my car, when I heard a quick piece of news from my car radio—something about a shooting incident in another state. After this announcement the radio station returned to its regular music hour and I didn’t think much of what was said. Several hours later I got home and turned on the television. Every channel revealed scenes of a high school immersed in chaos. Students were running across the school grounds in panic, policemen were swarming the exterior of the buildings with machine guns in their hands, and helicopters and other aircraft clouded the sky overhead. The anchorman was describing the bloody scenes that had taken place inside the school cafeteria, the hallways and the library. As I watched the drama take place on the screen, I sat on my living room sofa, awestruck at what two “normal” school kids could accomplish through their anger and hatred. It was alleged that their actions were partially a result of their musical influences. Most likely there were many reasons involved as to why these two middle class teenagers from a suburb of Denver decided to kill, but what if their choice of music alone had been different? Could this day have ended without tragedy had they had a different taste in music?

It was that day that I decided I wanted to teach. I wasn’t sure how I would begin, or even in which subject. It was not clear to me at that time that I might be able to have an impact on kids by teaching only music, but I realized I wanted to influence kids in a positive way. I later reminded myself that I would be walking in the family footsteps. My grandfather had been a superintendent in a small town outside Chicago; my grandmother, a school librarian; my mom began her career path as a teacher; my stepmother is currently a second grade teacher; and my in-laws have taught in their respective fields. During the following six months I worked through the process of learning about the needs of the public schools, and taking the necessary exams in order to obtain my emergency credentials. It became very clear to me that teaching music would be the most feasible way for me to become a mentor to many students who otherwise might feel alienated or discouraged by their peers, their teachers, or the “system” in which they may be reluctantly trying to play their role.

Becoming a music teacher has made me realize I can help children learn about their own heritage as well as the cultural diversity that surrounds them. Music might even empower youth to create new elements in their own culture. Through music they can grasp world geography as they learn to sing the folksongs of Ireland or Mexico; they are able to experience firsthand the spirit that comes from playing a Native American wooden flute; and they can discover other ways of communicating as they listen to the intricate rhythms of a West African talking drum. Music improvisation and composition can even provide some basic skills for leadership by helping a person develop new creative ideas while playing or singing with other people in a group.

As a professional musician of many years, I’ve learned how important it is to know the background of the many different styles of music that I play. Exploring the culture, religion, history, and geography that is associated with each style of music brings a greater understanding and appreciation, and enables me to have better playing and writing skills within each genre of music. I’ve played drums in many music groups from the Caribbean, and in the process of learning to play the vast array of rhythms that are forever evolving in this music, I’ve acquired much knowledge about the origins of these rhythms. Calypso music, for example, borrows from many elements of its cosmopolitan home, the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Many of the rhythms have come from Africa as a result of the country’s slave-trade history, but the large Hindu population has given calypso a feel similar to Indian raga music. Mandarin-influenced melodies have been intricately woven into calypso due to the Chinese population that immigrated to the islands at the turn of the century. The music has also retained its gypsy-flavored guitar sounds from the country’s beginnings as a Spanish colony. Now, I not only play calypso, but I travel to the Caribbean every time I sit behind my drums. I envision the streets full of people in extravagant costumes celebrating carnival time with every calypso song that I hear. When I dance to the music I capture the spirit of the country in my blood.

As a music teacher I aim to take students aboard the music train to the four corners of the world. Through song we can travel to the Far East and learn about its history and geography. We can become acquainted with different languages of Europe by learning the native songs of each region. We can better understand the religious customs of the Middle East by learning some of its religious folk songs.By encouraging education through music, so many of our youth can acquire skills that they might not have been able to realize in other school subjects. As a traveling music teacher, I’ve had some teachers in my program tell me how music has reached students who otherwise were not very responsive in other subjects. I personally have seen a number of students with poor classroom performance enthusiastically grasp music in my music classes. So many people experience music by hearing, but we can also feel, smell, see and taste through song. I have some deaf students who enthusiastically embrace music by feeling the movement of a song. Music can take many of us to another place in time and help us to joyfully recall a certain smell or taste. Every time I hear that old favorite, “That’s Amóre”, I picture myself in an Italian restaurant with the aroma and taste of fresh, delicious pasta. Visually, music can aid in learning about written language and mathematics. Music serves as an important learning aid in any school subject by making many ideas easier to understand.

I’ve always been aware of the significance that music plays in any society. Music affects people in positive ways and in negative ways. It can create a sense of unity and it is able to tear people apart in violence; it can awaken the spirit with enthusiasm, and it is capable of luring the heart and mind into a dark and hypnotic slumber. Gaining a better understanding of music encourages a person to understand more of the world around him. It might induce that person to ask, “Where does this music I hear come from?” or “What is the message of this music?”. Music ties together culture and society in so many different ways. It is valuable as a learning tool in other areas of education as well as being able to bring a simple happiness to our lives. If I, as a teacher of music, can affect one child in a positive way then I know that music education can be worthy to many of our youth who struggle to meet the demands of today’s society.



Doudou N'diaye Rose

A master of rhythm

Doudou Ndiaye Rose is a Senegalese drummer, composer and band leader, and is the recognized modern master of Senegal's traditional drum, the sabar. He is—literally—the father of a musical dynasty which includes some of the most successful traditional musicians of contemporary West Africa.
Perhaps his most well-known album, Djabote features 12 tracks recorded on the Isle of Goree in March 1991. It was recorded in one week with his group of fifty drummers and the Julien Jouga's Choir, an eighty-member, all-female choir. He has performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, the Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel, Kodo and Bill Bruford. He's also featured in the remix of "The Warning" by Nine Inch Nails. which was on the album "Year Zero Remixed."


Flourish Like A Palm Tree
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, "The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him." PSALM 92:12-15

For us to flourish, we need to know the purpose for which our Creator--our Designer--has created us. God communicates with us through His words in the Holy Bible. In it, He tells us that we must be planted in a church- God's House, a community of believers in Christ - in order to grow deep roots of righteousness and wisdom so that we can flourish in the way God has intended. Once we have established the roots like a palm tree, we'll be in a position to flourish within the purpose for which we were created. 

Consider the life of a palm tree:
  • A palm tree will grow and flourish where other trees dry up, get brittle and break, even in a lonely desert.
  • A palm tree overcomes heat and pressure. When we live according to God's Word not only can we handle pressure and stress, but we gain much wisdom from it!
  • A palm tree overcomes heavy winds and storms. They're flexible and know how to yield in the midst of a storm. If we operate within the wisdom of God we are able to be flexible in relationships.
We were created first to have a relationship with God and second, to have relationships with the rest of His creation--people! Being planted in a healthy Bible-believing community enables us to weather the storms of life in relation to others who share like-minded eternal values. It helps us understand that we are all created differently and are designed with different gifts.
A palm tree will always overcome a dry season. We have dry seasons where things are not going our way-- financially, relationally, in our job or career. We can overcome these trials with wisdom if we are genuinely living a life according to God's Word.
A palm tree can overcome the age factor. It has longevity. We're used to a disposable culture- we use things for a short while and then throw them away.

We're given the ability to continually renew our minds, gaining wisdom, knowledge and understanding with age. Moses began his ministry of leading the Israelites out of Egypt at age 80. When we live with a foundation in God's Word our way of thinking becomes set on eternal values instead of those of instant gratification.

You will produce fruit! God called us to fulfill His purpose through us. His purpose is not to frustrate us. A fruitful life is an overflowing life and the overflow is produced for others to receive. Living in God's Kingdom means living a life of abundance.

Today is your day to flourish!



I believe that God the Creator made up the institution of the family to be at the core of our lives as human beings. The family, ideally protected and led by a father, is the most important form of community in which we learn, discover our purpose and realize our passion for making a difference. We find our identity within the context of the ideal balance of our father's masculinity, our mother's nurturing spirit and the encouragement from both and it empowers us to live out our life and faith with conviction.
Family works well when parents realize that their primary role is to be parents. It means that above all else--careers, outside relationships, hobbies--parenting is job one. The Creator of the universe tells us, "A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children, but a sinner's wealth is stored up for the righteous" (Proverbs 13:22). It means that we must duplicate ourselves most significantly through our children because that is where our purpose and our faith is most practically and authentically passed on through the generations.
How do we fully extend ourselves into our childrens' lives if we don't spend a daily amount of time with them? A believer in Christ will agree that daily time spent with God is necessary in order to maintain a healthy relationship with Him. Why would not the same hold true with our spouse and our children? Quantity time is more important than quality time, because quantity time creates greater opportunity for spontaneous quality teaching moments with our children. Faith, moral values, wisdom, understanding . . . LIFE . . . are caught more than they are taught.
There once was a great visionary leader who influenced and led a whole nation; yet this great man, Moses, understood the important principle of the family as priority...
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
God and family first. "What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?" (Luke 9:25) I submit that our legacy is as important as our faith. God uses us to accomplish His plan. If we don't accommodate Him through our diligence as parents, His purpose will find a dead end with us and take an alternative path through another family. The God of the universe created the family, and this unit of humanity is the starting point through which His purpose is fulfilled.