I believe that an education in music is similar to how ensembles perform. Each section of an orchestra plays a vital role in the performance which brings the piece together as a whole. This whole is often greater than the sum of its parts. I believe music education to be parallel in its interconnectivity between disciplines. A comprehensive approach to teaching these musical disciplines helps to inculcate in students a better understanding and appreciation of the musical art form. This is accomplished through a variety of means, touching on multiple learning styles and using a variety of techniques to present the information in as many ways as possible. These techniques include use of active listening exercises, creative writing and composition, active participation in the creation of music through experimentation with a variety of instruments, lessons in historical context and musical development, and learning of musical fundamentals through process-oriented guided inquiry learning.
The more a student can be exposed to various musical fundamentals, the better chance they will have of applying that understanding to their listening as well as their performances. Often this gets done backwards, where students are prepared for performance and then afterward learn about what they did. I believe that performance can, and should, go hand in hand with the music fundamentals and theory behind what is being performed. This requires a more cohesive approach across departments, but is worth the planning and effort.
I prefer to individualize help for students who have difficulty with comprehension of a given subject, based upon how they are most likely to be reached. This requires intimate knowledge of their most effective learning style, their personality, and their history. This also requires a safe classroom environment where students are gleefully encouraged to make bold mistakes, experiment without risk of judgment or consequence, and be free to create not only with their primary instrument, but a wide variety of available instruments. Composing simple works for instruments with which they are unfamiliar will help students learn about the whole world of available sounds. Playing the compositions of their fellow classmates will encourage peer-review, cooperative participation, and will almost certainly guarantee much more active listening. Cooperative composition, where groups of students work together to create increasingly complex music, will foster a collaborative approach and envelop the students in active learning and even teaching roles.
All facets of theory should be explored in an environment which encourages the student to abandon their comfort zone in favor of new and exciting experiences, all as one class with the shared goal of achieving something amazing together. In this way, I treat the position of teacher as more of a guide, or facilitator. Sharing my own passion for music and music theory with the students is something I hope they will benefit from and perhaps even emulate down the road when they are in a position to share what they have learned with others.
I feel it is important to craft a curriculum which provides ample time to explore each subject through multiple and differing sensory experiences, guided interactive inquiry, and multiple angles of approach. Students should be able to explore facets of their musical subjects down to the marrow, learning not only about the specific subject at hand, but also how to take that exploratory process and apply it on their own in the future.