Last night I was disappointed to see a post on my Facebook feed complaining about how a Christmas concert had 50% Christian content. It was obviously posted and shared by people who believe that public schools should be completely devoid of religious teachings. Of course it bothered me as a Christian that someone would complain that a celebration based on my faith should have content based on my faith in it. But it occurred to me that wasn’t the big thing that bothered me.
What bothered me was the insinuation that a music teacher, such as myself, would think of any other reason for choosing content than for teaching music.
What has happened here is that someone with an agenda, an antitheological agenda, has bastardized my curricular decisions to fuel their own argument. A music teacher does not choose Christmas Concert content based on some religious motivation. A music teacher chooses music based on what will help the students learn to perform music.
That could be “Away in a Manger”, “Santa Baby”, or “Maoz Tzur”, so long as they help the teacher teach a particular objective that students need to learn.
Is there a theme? Of course. A piece of music my students played this year was called “A Song for Peace”. It is not a Christmas tune, in fact it is a tune used for Remembrance or Veteran’s Day. But it fit a theme I was working with. So I used it.
I also used “O Come All Ye Faithful”, not because it was a Christian carol, but because it taught my students how to play in a small ensemble format. And it worked.
I, being a music teacher at a Catholic school, have even had audience members complain to me about how few Christmas carols I include in my concerts. The answer to them is the same; I choose music to teach music.
None of the music chosen for our “Christmas” concert was for Christ. It was to teach music. And this is the case in every music program. If a theme is available, we use it to make the music more relevant, and therefore deepen the learning process, not to ram a religion down our audience’s throats.
But just to be clear, Christmas is a shortened form of “Christ’s Mass”, or a mass celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Before you start refuting the existence, or even the accuracy of the birthdate of Jesus, let me tell you I don’t care. I’m celebrating his birth as one of the greatest teachers of all time. It would be ridiculous to suggest that such a celebration should not have content related to the guy we’re celebrating.
How would you like to celebrate your birthday, but never be allowed to mention you exist? Or perhaps, what if we try to celebrate the birth of Nelson Mandela, but never be allowed to mention what he did? It’s a ridiculous notion.
Please stop taking my profession and twisting it to meet your own agenda. Get off your soapbox, shut up, and listen to the music.
Oh, and Merry Christmas.