How can schools create music curricula that are interesting—and relevant—to 21st century students?
Stephen Holley, Kent Denver's Producer of Commercial Music, addresses that issue and more in a thought-provoking article published this summer by the National Association for Music Education.
According to Holley, effective curricula must go beyond which instruments to teach and how many hours of practice to expect. The bigger question, Holley writes, is "how do we develop a cohesive, forward-thinking curriculum in an effort to instill not only musical abilities in, and an appreciation of, ALL genres, but also life skills that will support our students no matter their career path?"
Kent Denver program supports student-musicians in three key ways:
- Empowering them to develop an appreciation of, and competency in, a variety of musical styles,
- Offering multiple, once-in-a-lifetime experiences through travel and study with professional musicians, and,
- Using music as a vehicle to develop life skills such as responsibility, leadership, confidence, attention to detail, teamwork, creativity, and professionalism.
Holley says he used his experiences as a professional musician to help shape Kent Denver's Commercial Music program.
The program is based "on what I wished I would have known as a young bass player when it comes to learning my instrument, getting a gig, keeping a gig, and furthering myself as an all-around musical entrepreneur," Holley writes.
In addition to being a GRAMMY-nominated music educator, Holley guided Kent Denver's Quincy Ave. Rhythm Band and Kent Denver's Commercial Music Program to multiple DownBeat magazine Student Music Awards. In addition, he led student-musicians on international trips to Cuba, Italy, Switzerland and national trips to Memphis, Miami, New Orleans, New York and more to immerse themselves in music culture and participate in a number of music concerts and clinics.