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Music Moses' Way

Teaching Music Using a Biblical Way of Learning

By Wendy Hill. © 2002

When we think of Moses we think of how he was rescued by the Pharoah's daughter, brought up in a palace, fled to Midian, talked to the burning bush and led the Israelites out of Egypt. However Moses, being a leader, was also a great teacher.

One of the most important tasks God gave him was to teach the Ten Commandments to the Israelites. Deuteronomy 6:1-12 outlines his teaching method. It is a thorough method which reveals that Moses must have known that knowledge comes to us in many ways. One way is information derived from the external world. Man s environment provides an infinite amount of information, including music, received through the body senses. Another way to gain knowledge is from the inside the soul and the spirit.

The Body God directed Moses to teach the Ten Commandments to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 5:31 and 6:1) Deuteronomy 6:1-12 describes how Moses teaching method involved the body senses.

Aurally The people used their ears to listen with s Moses spoke. He told them twice to hear his words. Hear, Oh Israel (verses 3-4).

Visually Moses wrote the Commandments on tablets a second time as a visual reminder of God s instructions (Deuteronomy 10:1-2). God has already written them the first time after He had spoken and Moses had listened to Him. In the learning process listening comes before reading.

Orally Moses talked to people and told parents to talk to their children (Deuteronomy 6:7).

Kinaesthetically (touch) Moses told people to touch the Commandments. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:9)

The Elements of Music course uses the God-given physical senses in a wide variety of ways to help students appreciate and discover more about music and its Maker. The course aims to cater for all learning types. Some students learn quicker when information is presented aurally. Others are visual learners. Some need to verbalise everything while others learn better through touching. Music is essentially an invisible, aural art form, so it is obvious that listening is the most important sense.

Aural Learning (Listening)
The power and value of listening should not be underestimated. Music methods since the early Twentieth Century have revived the importance of the ear and the importance of listening to pieces before they are learned. This is in contrast to traditional teaching methods which emphasis reading before listening. Learning by ear is not an original idea of man s God thought of it first. Learning by ear has been God s way ever since the beginning. In the beginning, God spoke and said, Let there be Then followed the creation of the heavens and the earth, including man and music. Many times Jesus began His instructions with the word, listen because He knew the power of listening as a learning skill. Jesus also said, He who has ears, let him hear (Matthew 4:23, 11: 15, 13:9, 13:43). Understanding His parables involves listening attentively with our hearts and minds as well as our ears. In a similar way, music learning is more effective when the learner hears the music before playing it. A person learns a native language through hearing it. Babies are exposed to language many months before they actually talk.

In the Elements of Music course hundreds of questions on CD provide excellent aural training so students can hear what they read and write. Keyboard activities enable them to hear what they play. In Volume One, students are trained to identify four music elements. They learn five more in Volume Two and a further five in Volume Three. Each element is put to music and heard on the CD. Music examples for listening are selected from hymns and classical music from the historical period under study. The history component of the course is increased in the second and third volumes. Nine weeks are spent on each major historical period. In Volume Two students take a music journey from Ancient Times through Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque. Volume Three covers Classical, Romantic, Late Nineteenth Century and Twentieth Centuries. Listening examples are provided for all periods and students identify different music styles.

Visual Learning (seeing)
The next body sense is seeing or reading. Visual information enters the brain through the eyes. In the learning process, reading comes after listening. Music notation is basically a written representation of music already heard. Written music is an aid to recall the composer s instructions and to assist in memorising. The Bible was written after the act of Creation as a history of what had already occurred and as aid to remembering the past and who God is. The aim of God s written Word is to remember God s instructions and live life accordingly. The aim of music notation is that the student remember and reproduce the sounds according to the composer s intentions. God gives us both eyes and ears to help us learn. Ear that hear and eyes that see the Lord has made them both. (Proverbs 20:12). Reading is taught to teach and confirm basic music concepts. Most CD examples are notated in the Student Workbooks so that students can read and remember what they hear. Rhythms, melodies, chords and scales are all taught visually and aurally.

Oral Learning (talking)
Talking is not actually a sense like listening and seeing but involves the tongue, the taste organ. The tongue is very close to the voicebox and without it we could not talk. So the tongue is the key to both tasting and talking. The Elements of Music course provides many opportunities to verbalise. Oral review questions at the start of each lesson refresh the memory of previous lessons. Scriptures and definitions are recited in the Surprise Box questions. Singing the music examples is an excellent way of verbalising. Many music examples are hymns.

Kinesthetic Learning (touching)
Touch is very important in this course as students write notation and also play the keyboard. Writing is slower than listening, seeing and talking because the body joints, bones and muscles are used. Sound waves, light waves and tongue movements are much quicker. However writing is a very useful way to materialise and confirm information already stored in the brain. Writing is vital in recording ideas, especially rhythms and melodies made up by students. If the Bible, history and music had not been written down, an immeasurable amount of information would be lost forever. Keyboard activities put into practice knowledge learned aurally, visually and orally. Playing an instrument is rewarding and assimilates many areas of learning. The Student Workbooks have short exercises which cover basic keyboard skills and incorporate the theory learned. The Keyboard Arrangements Books in Volumes Two and Three provide extension work, develop what has already been taught and provide extra practice in scales and chords. The course is not intended to be a keyboard tutor, however students still gain some basic instrumental skills.

One way to gain knowledge is from information from the world outside the person. We have seen how The Elements of Music course caters for this by teaching through the body senses. Another way to gain knowledge is from information from inside the person. Music is food for the body, soul and spirit.

The Soul
The soul is the invisible, conscious part of man and consists of the will, mind, memory and feelings. It is the decision-making, intellectual, thinking, understanding and emotional part of man s make-up. The soul must be fed a healthy diet of information. Isaiah 55:2b-3 says Listen to me and eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me. Hear me that your soul may live. Moses taught the Ten Commandments not just through the body senses but also the soul. He said, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5) He told the Israelites to use their memory. be careful that you do not forget the Lord. (Deuteronomy 6:12)

The memory is like a muscle. To keep muscles healthy and fit they need to be exercised. Likewise the memory needs to be exercised. The Elements of Music course feeds the soul with exercises and challenges such as memorising scriptures and definitions, musical analysis, puzzles, games, flash cards, charts, colouring, review exercises and quality music.

The Spirit
The spirit is another invisible part of man s design. It is the subconscious part made I God s image. God designed us with an ability to appreciate art and music. We have the physical ability to sing and play an instrument. We have the emotional and intellectual ability to feel, express, analyse and understand music. We also have the spiritual perspective and gift of creativity to combine the music elements with great imagination. The spirit is man s link with God s spirit through which we gain wisdom and more knowledge. King Solomon prayed to God for wisdom and knowledge. (2 Chronicles 1:10) God gave them to Solomon through the spirit. In Proverbs 2 Solomon summed up the whole learning process. He showed how the spirit is an integral part of a person and influences all parts of soul and body. He wrote:

"My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you (in the invisible part) turning your ear to wisdom (hearing) and applying your heart (spirit) to understanding (soul) and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding (tongue, talking, verbalising) and if you look for it as silver and gold and search for it as hidden treasure (seeing and touching) then you will understand (soul) the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (soul). For the Lord gives wisdom and from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding (soul) Then you will understand (soul) what is right and just and fair every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart (spirit) and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you and understanding will guard your soul."

Paul tells us that we should fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18) This is vital in music. Unlike science which depends heavily on the body senses and proving ideas about the outside world, music draws on creativity and expressing ideas from within. Creativity involves the soul (will, mind, memory and emotions, spirit and uniqueness of each individual. The brain and body materialise ideas. God is the Source of creativity because He is the Creator. If we ask Him for wisdom and knowledge as Solomon did He will teach us from His Holy Spirit through our spirit. Music students get bogged down in the details of music playing countless pieces, entertaining, striving to be the best, aiming to pass examinations and win competitions. These things are temporary events and only last for our time on earth. The Elements of music aims to teach for eternity by feeding the spirit with God s own Word and relating music basics to their Maker. The program takes the student back to the foundations by defining the basic building blocks or elements and acknowledging God as Creator. We should never take the music elements for granted and forget their Maker. Without these God-made elements we do not have music. God is the Source, the Giver and Provider of the gift of music.

In the course many scriptures are memorised relating to music. Students are trained to identify music elements so that, with the help of wisdom and knowledge from the Holy Spirit, they can discern which music is God-honouring. This type of spiritual food lasts forever. The rewards of feeding the soul as well as the body and soul are enormous. In Deuteronomy 6 Moses told the people that if they followed God s ways they would enjoy long life (verses 2,8) and that things would go well (verse 3). Solomon wrote in Proverbs 2 that God holds victory in store for the upright and He is the shield to those whose walk is blameless for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones. (verses 7,8). The Elements of Music course is unique in that it places music into a Biblical perspective and in doing so students gain an overview of music. Music is treated as a tool to learn about God and that is the goal of education. Education is the unfolding of God His character and His creation. (Peter Frogley) God s signature is written in the design of all the music elements. The manual for this course is the Bible and the music-Maker is God.

This course aims to: relate the subject of music to God; develop an awareness of how music is evidence of God s creativity and design; cover basic theory concepts and aural skills and introduce some history; distinguish and identify specific music elements aurally and visually; teach how to follow a simple score; teach some basic keyboard skills; encourage enjoyment and appreciation of different musical styles throughout history; enable the learner to intelligently discriminate between balanced and unbalanced music to discern what is God-honouring; develop creativity through composing simple God-honouring music; develop an understanding of how composers use their God-given musical gifts to organise music elements; and enable the learner to proceed to further studies with a solid understanding of music's foundations.

© Wendy Hill 2002

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