Breaking Through – Varner


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A growing number of music and arts teachers are embracing the natural alignments between music education, Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA). However, these objectives too often run the risk of becoming amorphous, misused, or catch-all efforts lacking authenticity and meaning.

In Breaking Through, author Edward Varner helps music teachers understand the purpose of SEL, how it intersects with DEIA, and how to promote quality and equitable experiences for all students. The book is divided into three sections:

  1. Groundwork looks at music education as a matter of equity and identifies the natural alignments between SEL and DEIA.
  2. Avenues for Disruption offers strategies to make music education mindful, meaningful, and manageable.
  3. Moving the Needle One Step at a Time identifies points of disruption and barriers to equity through an anti-racist lens.

Varner also explores how music teachers can use SEL to teach important life skills, including cooperation, communication, positive interactions, responsibility, impulse control, and accepting consequences, among others.

Music educators play a vital role in students’ lives and education. And through intentional SEL instruction, they empower their students and communities to break through and disrupt barriers to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access.

Edward Varner has been an educator, musician, actor, and arts education specialist for more than three decades. A passionate advocate for music and arts programming, Varner regularly presents workshops on the importance of SEL in arts education at regional, national, and international conferences. He is based in North Cornwall Township, Pennsylvania.