By Chris Hearon
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – There is a revolutionary view of what music education should look like, and Michael Billingsley is leading the front at Camden County College. Armed with a master’s in music education and bachelor’s in trumpet from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Billingsley, age 34, has taught for 10 years at Camden County College with the intention of giving his students the benefits of his model of music education.
Billingsley describes his ideal archetype of music education as a combination of the following: songwriting and criticism; music appreciation through creativity and movement; composition, history and theory; ensemble offerings that reflect the diversity of musical groups in and around the community; and lots of chances to create music and present it. His map for a complete and valuable education in the field of music has been influenced by his own personal experiences.
“I’ve learned that music needs to be experienced through creating, performing, criticizing and dancing in order to be fully realized. The more I do those things, the more I will impact my students,” he states.
But the teachers are not the only ones involved in reforming music education. Billingsley also believes that anyone who actively listens and participates with music is enriching his or her own life in a fantastic way. Furthermore, Billingsley believes in a global reach of the power that this type of hands-on music making, or “musicking,” could hold. In this spirit, he writes on his website that, “If we all sang, danced, clapped and communicated more critically, it could be a much different world.”
After half of a semester in Billingsley’s honors music appreciation course, Noel Vadino agrees with the methods and motives of this new kind of music education. Vadino loves the fact that the class is not stagnant in the variety or format. She especially liked an assignment where the students played a song by the band Coldplay as a class project.
“He was able to make us all come together and bring out our talents,” Vadino states.
She describes Billingsley as a teacher who “is passionate, not just teaching from a book. He just loves music.” Vadino, a liberal arts major, recommends that anyone who is interested in music should consider taking Billingsley’s music appreciation, especially if they are also a non-music major.