We speak with Dr. Anne Smith, longtime music teacher in Northern Virginia, about accommodating cultural differences. Dr. Smith created an alternate curriculum for students whose traditions don’t allow secular music-making. We discuss the extent to which parents should be able to influence what their students learn. We also talk about why music and art are treated as lesser (“special”) subjects.


00:00-00:35 Intros

00:35-07:57 A parent asks to opt her daughter out of music

07:57-09:48 Finding a balance in a class with culturally and linguistically diverse children and families

09:48-12:02 Importance of conversation between professionals and families

12:02-14:15 Are parental objections to music different from objections to literature and science?

14:15-16:39 Teachers need to articulate why they are teaching what they are teaching; importance of teaching music

16:39-19:03 Music should be part of everyone’s life—a loss if parents opt out

19:03-20:30 Importance of music foundation before children go on specific tracks

20:30-24:30 Teachers’ responses to Va. governor’s  push for parents to object to aspects of education he doesn’t like

24:30-27:01 “Old Black Joe”

27:01-29:15 Using the arts to educate and promote equity

29:15-32:22 Why schools treat art and music as dispensable

32:22-36:16 Treating the arts seriously as subjects

36:16- Outro


Click here to see the full transcript of this episode. 

Soundtrack by Poddington Bear