Also, he said, “It’s about showing our MuEd students a different kind
of classroom experience,” first in their role as students and later as
music teachers sharing what they’ve learned with their own students.
“This opened doors for me, not just the confidence to share my own
art, but techniques to use in exposing my future students to musical
collaboration and the creative process,” Fareed said.
Adams came to UD in the fall of 2017. As word got around that he was a
singer/songwriter himself, students began coming to him with questions
and to chat about their own songwriting experiences.
He said he soon realized that there was a pocket of students at UD
who were already creating their own music, writing not for a class
assignment, but creating for their own personal reasons. Music majors learn technical music skills in aural skills, harmony,
sight-reading and pedagogy classes, but Adams sought to give students a
different kind of music-making experience focused on a sense of
community and understanding, more like a workshop setting than a
Despite the busy coursework music students already have, the
department embraced this experimental course as a way to expand
students’ experiences, and for good reason.
In 2014, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards, an alliance
of national arts and arts education organizations, published the first
revision of national arts standards in 20 years for dance, media arts,
music, theatre and visual arts education. These standards include four
anchors of education: creativity, performing, responding and connecting.
Aimee Pearsall, instructor in music education at UD, explained
that the traditional musical education curriculum has always had a
strong emphasis on performing, connecting and responding, but in recent
years music educators have been working to include more creativity in
“As the field of music education continues to progress, UD’s music
education faculty seeks to provide experiences that our own students can
take into their future classrooms,” she said. “Songwriting is an
exemplar of music creativity. It fosters a high level of musical
engagement and facilitates the highest level of musical thinking.
“Music educators want to infuse more creative opportunities into our
schools, so we need to provide our music education majors with these
creative learning opportunities.”
The National Association for Music Education also recognizes
songwriting as a valuable addition to the curriculum. The organization
has asked Adams to present a series of talks at its 2019 national
conference in November, focusing on the classroom community created
through songwriting as well as methods of songwriting and even lesson
planning for a songwriting class.
Through the course, Adams said he watched the students grow from
being nervous at this new experience to being empowered in their own
musicianship and telling their own stories. Because this music felt more
personal to each student, it didn’t feel like work.
“Having a creative, emotive outlet actually helps fuel the workload students have in their other classes,” Adams said.
Listen to some original student music
Adams’ final assignment took the students outside the safe space of
their songwriting community by asking them to record and post EPs of the
work they created. Several class members have shared their work here:
Article by Megan Everhart; photos by Kathy F. Atkinson
Published Oct. 21, 2019