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  • Writer's pictureKamara Hennessey


In the definition of a Music Education it is often considered as learning an instrument along with music theory, and in the long term becoming quite knowledgable in the applications of the basic and complex musical concepts within the context of the music. I believe, however, that it needs not to be limited to those “academics” if we are to understand this discipline in its broader sense.

Other interests that continue to ignite my passion as an ‘elite’ Music Educator, are in the pursuit of the visual arts, dance, and literature. I have found that these three artistic endeavors have become references that I use - with hope and trust - to help inspire students to become more appreciative of the piece that they are studying regardless of which level it is categorized.

When we study the great historical composers’ instrumental or vocal works, we need to be more informative of their compositional intent in its extensive creativity by delving deeper into what inspired these composers to produce such masterpieces. Therefore, we need to know who were the masters in literature, the visual arts, the choreographed stylistic dances that influenced these composers to create overarching compositions that mirrored the beauty of the colors and textures as seen on the canvas or the varying emotions that evolved out of the narrative in the story or poem, or the metered rhythms in the physical movements of the dance that highlight its nationality, or were specific to a culture or to a certain class in social standing. In awareness of all these other art forms, composers expressed these back dynamically through the technical and artistic realization of the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic sounds that introduce the performer to a particular musical style or genre reflective of the times.

In the Baroque period, composers in their own creativity were influenced by works of art from the brush strokes of Rembrandt or Watteau. Romanticism at its peak from 1800-1850 was embodied most strongly and diversely expressed out by different artists, sculptors, writers, and composers to express emotions, intuition, and the power of nature in its beauty and unpredictability. As one listens attentively, one can hear these elements in transitory ‘classical-romantic’ works such as in Beethoven’s Symphony No.6, also known as the ‘Pastoral’, or in the grandeur of his ‘Choral’ Symphony No. 9 - wherein the fourth movement it is instrumentally and vocally (4 solo voices and chorus) expressed out to Schiller’s poem “Ode to Joy”. Debussy and Ravel were highly influenced by the Impressionistic Movement in Art in the paintings of Monet, Degas, Renoir; hence these composers musically emulated those visually sketchy, fleeting moments in these artists’ masterpieces into their own non-rigid structural and flexible compositional sounds as well.

It is imperative that student performers become knowledgable of the cultural/societal and economic roots from whence such music as the Blues, Gospel, Swing, Bee Bop, Funk styles originated from that defined the Jazz era, and to be appreciative of those great non-white composer-musicians past and present who set the tone as such in a global stage presence for recognition and acceptance. Most of all to perform their musical styles with conviction in their authenticity.

Many visual artists have been inspired as well to create a subject matter on the canvas when moved by a composer’s work, or a story that is portrayed in literature, dance, musical theatre, drama. Therefore each art form cannot be treated as a separate entity as they are dependent on each other to connect the pieces in the Inter-Disciplinary Arts circle; one that is substantial and valid to incorporate into a life long music education.

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