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 Religion in the classroom 
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I know we touched on this a few weeks ago...but I am wondering about other opinions on this. I am a music major and run into the question of whether or not it's ok to do religious music in my classroom. Throughout my musical career, I have performed many religious pieces within my choir. I did grow up in the bible belt, in a rural school, and in an area where most people were christian and "church going." I've heard some people say that it's alright just as long as the piece doesn't have the name "Jesus" in it, that perhaps the words God and Lord could apply to any God? I've also heard it justified that the pieces are important because of the style and historic aspects. In my 10th grade english class I can remember reading and studying literature that came from the Bible, such as the story of Ruth; and this was in a public school. I feel like that's the same thing, we studied those stories because of the literary value, shouldn't that work for music....or any other subject? I'm a little stumped with this one...

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Maria Parker


Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:21 pm
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I agree, Maria, that singing religious music is the same as reading a part of the Bible for literary purposes if you put it in that content. I can't think of any choral director that I know that does not teach religious music. Actually, most of them choose the majority of their pieces from the "religious" category. It is our responsibility as teacher to expose our students to numerous amounts of literature and theories, etc. As long as you don't say, "This song speaks the truth and you should all believe" it, I don't see the problem.

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Emily Fox :)


Wed Oct 29, 2008 1:58 pm
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I think having religious music is fine in a music classroom; however, I think you need to be aware of the meaning of the music. You also need to be sensitive to your students beliefs. If your students or their parents are uncomfortable with the song, I believe you should take that into consideration. Also, when we say religious we often mean Christian. If we are willing to sing Christian music, maybe we should consider singing other religious music from other religions or even just differing cultures. This would also help our students become more well-rounded and accepting of other music or more accepting of other cultures.

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Lianna Denise Beard


Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:27 pm
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I agree. I believe religious music should be allowable teaching material in public schools. Any song with words will carry some type of content. Depending on the context of how the material is taught, you may or may not step on people's toes. I think the important aspect is to gauge the comfort level of the students and parents and to incorporate music from many different religions and cultures. Also provide a focus to the lesson so that students realize the emphasis is not on the religious meaning behind the word s but rather dynamics, tempo, rhythm, duality of parts, harmony, etc. As a teacher, just be aware and be willing to make adjustments.

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Heather Lynn Rulifson


Thu Oct 30, 2008 9:28 am
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i believe that you should be able to do religious music in schools. I was in a concert choir class for 7 years of school and most of the music we did was all spirituals and religious types of music. And this was a regular class you took during school not an extra-curricular activity. And as you said religion plays a role in other areas of school (the story of Ruth) so i dont see why it would not be acceptable to sing/play it during a music class. but like Lianna said just be sensitive to your students beliefs, but make them aware of the value of learning different types of music.

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Kristen P. Helton


Wed Nov 05, 2008 4:31 pm
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Hey Maria. I often struggle with this question too, given that I am in the same field as you. I think I have come to the conclusion that it is fine to introduce religious music as long as there is no obvious preference shown, and there is some sort of historical context explained. If you totally take out religious music, then you are also taking out many beautiful pieces to share with your students, not to mention many songs in the holiday music repertoire. As long as you are careful not to impose your own personal religious views through the introduction of religious music, I think that it is absolutely fine and could end up being incredibly beneficial for the students in your classroom.

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Brynne Pulver, Music Education/Vocal Performance


Wed Nov 05, 2008 9:13 pm
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In all the choirs that I have sang with, most have been with public schools, we preformed religious pieces. Some of them being Silent Night, We Three Kings, and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. However we also sang song like Feliz Navidad, Jingle Bells, and Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. Maybe because I grew up in the Bible Belt too that these songs were accepted. I believe it has a lot to do with were you are teaching and what the people in the area feel are accepted.


Wed Nov 12, 2008 2:55 pm
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