understanding of this lesson when they play the piece as a boat takes
him away from them after he loses his job because seeing him leave is
like death to them.
Another example of the transformative and liberating power of
music is found in the Fox television series Glee (2009-2015). This show
itself is not as much about music education as it is the liberation of
students from the stereotypes and closed-minded thinking in their small
town, Lima, Ohio. Mr. Shue (Matthew Morrison) liberates his students
from binary thinking through music. There are musical numbers on the
football field they – unrealistically but entertainingly – help the team
win a game. In another episode, the teacher allows Kurt (Chris Clofer),
a male student, to audition for a role traditionally sung by a female.
Small steps are made throughout the series as students come out,
experiment with their sexuality, critique able-bodiedness and disability
and body image, and have colorblind casting; in episode after episode,
the students become more comfortable with themselves and with one
another. As they learn to express their emotions through song and
dance, the students are freed from the labels their classmates and
teachers have ascribed onto them.
Finally, transformation through music education occurs
through self-actualization of students. Les Choristes (2004) tells the story
of Pierre Morhange’s (Jean-Baptiste) realization of his full potential
through the music teacher Monsieur Mathieu (Gérard Jegnot). In the
end, this young boy hones his talent and transforms his own life.
Through music, Pierre is magically humanized. The transformation
exemplified by this particular student, but it is not limited to him. The
whole class of boys evolves from poorly misbehaved to respectful and
eager to please as a result of what happens in music class. Each boy
displays a clear transformation, but it is Pierre who goes on to become
a popular conductor and to escape from poverty.
My personal story with music is not the one Hollywood tells of
struggling students whose hidden talent and potential is fully realized to
dramatically alter their lives. I was never particularly gifted as a musician
or especially talented in other arts, but the passion my teachers ignited