This blog is the result of teaching myself music for almost 30 years. There, of course, have been key figures and key individuals to help me along the way. However, for better and for worse, I have been my own teacher.
It is my mission to share as much of that knowledge as I can to help others along their way, to learn from my mistakes, and, hopefully, to do it a lot faster than I have done it.
I am by no means a master musician. After some solid self-evaluation, I suppose I would consider myself a solid intermediate musician. BUT, I consider myself an advanced teacher. I have most definitely put in my 10,000 hours in education. I’d like to also think that I have put in my 10,000 hours as a musician, although it’s hard to do that math. The 10,000 hours as a teacher was easy to figure out. I have been a teacher for 16 years. 7 hours per day x 180 school days = 1260 hours per year x 16 years = 20,160 hours. If you want to dock me for my planning periods, then go ahead. I still come in way over 10,000.
The point is, after all this time, I approach music education from a unique perspective, and I’d like to pass it along to more than just my current students.
The two areas in music education where I have seen the most improvement, and the areas that get the least attention are audiation (thinking musically) and the mind-body connection (the somatic studies, specifically The Alexander Technique and Body Mapping). Interestingly, these are the two areas of study that have, without my knowing it, held me back as a musician, and, as a result of acknowledging them, had the greatest impact on me as a musician and an educator. I always had limitations as a musician, and never knew why.
Now, after studying these two ideas, I know my limitations, and what I can do about them. The proverbial glass ceiling on my musicianship has been removed. The only barrier between me and professional musician status is practice. And I know it’s going to be a long road, and am excited about the journey as well as the destination.
The major concepts of Body Mapping and Music Learning Theory (not to be confused with learning music theory) are not that difficult, and need to be shared with the world. For some reason, these two pedagogical frameworks are the world’s best teachers that no one knows about. I would like to change that, so no musician ever has to stop playing because he is in pain, and so no “Happy Birthday” song is ever ruined again due to out of tune singing. It’s a noble pursuit, I know. Stay tuned.
Andy Mullen is a teacher, folk musician, multi-instrumentalist, recovering songwriter, and lifelong learner. He has taught all levels of students in a number of subjects, and is currently a middle school teacher and curriculum coach in Burlington, Massachusetts. Mr Mullen holds Masters degrees in Music Education and School Administration, as well as certification from the Gordon Institute of Music Learning (GIML) in Elementary General and Early Childhood Music. He is currently entertaining Doctoral scholarships.