Adding to the STEAM Toolbox

Teaching the arts instills confidence in the creative process

by Dr. Rod Berger

Cameron Guerrero has been the Director of Bands and Orchestras for the Granada Hills Charter High School in southern California for the last three years, but even in that short time he’s seen significant changes starting in education. From the realization of the importance of the arts in the STEAM classroom to the shift in focus from standardized testing for all students to adaptive testing for individual students, things are changing for the better in his estimation.

“Using standardized testing, especially in the music classroom, just flat out doesn't work,” Cameron says. “Every student comes into the classroom with different levels of familiarity with their instrument or different levels of familiarity with music as a subject.”

To measure and assess all students of all talents and skill levels against one standard completely defeats the entire purpose of an arts education, Cameron notes. “It's one of those things where we have to approach it from the standpoint of, has this student improved from where they were at the previous assessment at the beginning of the year?”

In addition to the collaboration and teamwork skills that band and orchestra membership teaches, learning an instrument and practicing daily is a necessary and much-needed brief disconnect from the everyday saturation of technology in a student’s life. Cameron believes that practicing the arts is not only useful in maintaining a spiritual balance, but it's a healthy and refreshing break in a young person’s hectic daily routine. “It just offers them the opportunity to unplug a little bit for a moment. That's what I tell them, that they should use their daily practice as a mini-vacation from their daily life.”

With the advancement of the STEM movement and the subsequent STEAM movement, Cameron says that more and more school administrations are seeing that music and the arts are not just extra things to be inserted into an already crowded curriculum. Music and the arts are necessary elements of education that consistently keep kids more engaged during the school day and in many cases even gives them a reason to come to school. Studies have shown that an arts education offers students both the tools and the opportunity to think differently in the classroom.

“I think that walking into a music room or walking into an art class and using a creative aspect of their brain differently to create something and not necessarily just solving a problem motivates and instills confidence,” Cameron says. He believes that just creating something and finding a way to get that creativity out is a very cool process to experience and ultimately a valuable set of tools for a student to know as they go through their lives.

About Cameron Guerrero

Cameron Guerrero is the Director of Bands and Orchestras at Granada Hills Charter High School in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley where he oversees 230 instrumental music students on a daily basis. Mr. Guerrero believes strongly that the arts and music education—while also inherently important—are the ideal tools to provide a positive, life-changing experience and to teach students the value and importance of mutual respect, citizenship, and understanding for all people as well as an appreciation for and love of the arts.

Mr. Guerrero has performed and toured all over the US and Europe with the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps from Concord, CA, and won two DCI World Championships while marching (2010, 2012). He now serves as the Visual Caption Head for Blue Devils B.

Cameron holds his degree in Music Education from Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA.

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