Saturday, August 20, 2011

Technology and the Music Educator

"I just invent. Then I wait until man comes around to needing what I've invented."

-R. Buckminster Fuller

Now more than ever before, music educators have the opportunity to expand the horizons of our profession.

The benefits of learning music have been widely publicized, and it seems new reports and statistics are released just about every week that prove studying music can help foster intellectual curiosity, stimulate creativity, and promote discipline. Most often, these studies are used as ammunition by organizations, teachers, and frustrated parent groups who are facing cuts to their local school band, choir, or orchestra programs.  And it's no surprise that advances in technology that allow for unprecedented communication, file sharing, and information delivery may be seen as an impending threat to those who teach music in schools or in a private setting. But we do not agree.

I recently read a blog that argued 'technology in music education can never replace the care and nurturing of a great educator'. That's like saying 'the microwave oven can never replace the delicate palette of an executive chef'.  It's an invalid argument and moot point at best. The microwave will not make anyone a great chef - but most all great chefs have one in their kitchen and know how to use it to their advantage. Technology is only as good as those plying it - it won't make a poor teacher any better.

But what technology can do is allow educators to reach new markets and encourage more learning at all levels - from the causal enthusiast to the most advanced performer. Educators can also use technology to create a sense of community among learners and allow for ideas to be shared between students, educators, and peers. Technology can also help make music teachers become better communicators and keep learning material, practice notes, and digital files neatly organized and accessible in one location.

The beauty of applying technology to music education is that we as educators have an opportunity to share our expertise with more potential music makers than ever before. And more people playing music and enjoying its benefits means a boost for instrument manufacturers, print music publishers, recording artists, concert halls and yes... teachers! We believe that more people (especially adults) becoming interested and involved in music making will undoubtedly lead to a more passionate concern for the importance of music in our schools.

Technology is here to stay. An entire generation now presumes and expects it to be part of nearly every aspect of their lives. As music educators, we need to be open to using technology to present our ideas in current and relative formats. Let's not be the last profession to 'come around'!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Au Pair Option - A World of Experiences for Your Family!

We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Regan Flaherty, Development Director for Cultural Care Au Pair. She visited DSM to inquire about making our DLP learning program available to members of the au pair community. "Many of our au pair's are interested in playing music and I'm intrigued about the possibility that they could share in this activity with the children of their host families."

Several DSM families have had au pair's and Regan would like us all to be more informed about this option for childcare. “In this current economic climate all families are looking for flexibility as well as affordability. Parents need to be very creative with their childcare solutions and Texans are not as inclined to consider an au pair as an option. We need to change that!"

The au pair program is attractive because it allows parents to set a schedule that works for them on a weekly basis at a cost that remains the same whether a family works 9 to 5 or has the au pair work non-traditional hours. "Having an Au Pair can go a long way toward helping families reach that critical 'work-life' balance. And contrary to popular belief, families with more than one child find the au pair program to be one of the most affordable options available."

There are other benefits to opening your home to an au pair. Studies have shown that exposing your children to a second language enhances language and cognitive development. Au Pair's are also willing and eager to teach their native language and share their culture with your family.

Unlike daycare or a babysitter, an au pair can perform all household duties associated with children, so they can vacuum a playroom, prepare and clean up after meals, do children’s laundry, make the children’s beds and organize their toys/closets/playrooms. An au pairs’ assistance with these day-to -day tasks allows you to spend more quality time with your children and spouse.

And Regan wants us to know most of all that the au pair program is "regulated by the State Department and last year we became the only agency in the world to use our own staff overseas for recruitment, screening, and orientation, rather than relying on third-party agents."

During our screening process, every candidate is personally interviewed, tested on English competency, takes a personality profile, and submits to a criminal background check as well as personal and professional reference checks. Acceptance into our program is highly competitive. Only 1/3 of the people who apply are accepted into our au pair pool, and out of thousands of applicants in the pool, only about 1/3 actually match with a family.

Any DSM or DLP families interested in learning more about au pair childcare can call Regan directly at 800-333-6056 ext 5535, email her or visit for additional information and a special savings for our families!