Cami Shaskin

Violin Blog


This blog is about all things violin. It is meant to educate, inspire, and provide resources for parents, teachers, and students. The author takes full responsibility for the viewpoints expressed here. In instances where she quotes ideas from others, she pledges to cite her sources as fully, responsibly, and accurately as possible. Topics will include book reviews, technique tips, entertaining anecdotes, quotes, jokes, educational findings, instrument care suggestions, violin in the news, repertoire lists, etc.

Cami J. Shaskin graduated with her master's degree in Music Education in 2008. Violin has always been her primary instrument, since beginning private lessons at age five. See for her music résumé, or click on Spotlights for historical recordings. Cami has enjoyed an array of experiences in writing, from penning award-winning articles as a journalism staff writer in high school, tutoring peers at BYU's Writing Center, earning a Writing Fellows scholarship and a minor in Language and Computers, and later becoming a published author. She recently picked up web programming as a hobby, earning a certificate in Web Programming and Development from the local community college. This blog has been a collaborative effort between her and her husband, who is a Web Developer by profession. Together, they designed and coded this blog and its original content "from scratch."


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Teaching Values
24 Apr 2021
Author's note: Writing this piece was part of my coursework for my graduate degree in music education. It has been shortened for this blog post. I believe it was a topic I was able to choose, and if it was assigned, I'm glad it was. In terms of applying values education to violin teaching, I would say I attempt to teach wisdom along with new music in lessons, whenever the opportunity presents itself. For instance, when a student complains in their lesson about a situation in their school orchestra, I want to try to help them see the scenario with new eyes. Even teaching music at all, I feel, is inherently helping kids learn values--such as hard work, discipline, excellence, and learning to contribute to their community--as well as the value of life, and how beautiful it can be.

Valuing Values—A Case for Character Education

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Intelligence plus character - that is the true goal of education” (Paige 2003). Values are not just nice things we can tack on as an afterthought to a child’s education. Values are woven into life like threads in a blanket. Once the threads begin to unravel, life and society as we know it begins to fall apart. If kids don’t get these things at home, or if they don’t go to church, where will they get them? Are we saying that values no longer matter--that if kids don’t get them at home or church, they don’t need them at all?

Rafe Esquith, winner of the American Teacher Award, says in his book There are No Shortcuts that kids are beginning to think they are entitled to life, liberty, and happiness, without remembering the other half of the equation: pursuit. The Founding Fathers said that mankind is entitled to the pursuit of happiness. Teachers play a huge role in teaching young people how to pursue their goals. Teaching values is a good way to begin. In fact, for Esquith, “morality and matters of character . . . often dominate the day” (Esquith 2003).

Many well-known leaders have advocated for character-building in the schools. Herbert Spencer, who was famous for the phrase, “survival of the fittest,” said, “Education has for its object the formation of character” (Indiana). Rodney Paige, former U.S. secretary of education, said, “We must help students to understand universal values like respect, tolerance, responsibility, honesty, self-restraint, family commitment, civic duty, fairness and compassion.” He continues by tearing down the argument that teaching values is a violation of the separation of church and state. He says, “These are not the values of a particular religion. They are the values shared by all people of character, who are committed to freedom and justice” (Paige 2003).

Esther Schaeffer, executive director of the Character Education Parternship in Washington D.C. says, “To be effective, character education must be deliberate and intentional” (2000). If a child cheats on a test at school and the teacher doesn’t correct him, he is telling the child that honesty doesn’t matter and that cheating is the right thing to do. Obviously this is not correct . . .Think of when he grows up and gets a job and steals money from his employer. Not only will it affect his job status, it affects himself as a person and the rest of the community.

In his book Educating for Character, Thomas Lickona states that “there is no such thing as value-free education. The relevant issue is never ‘Should schools teach values?’ but rather ‘Which values will they teach?’ and ‘How well will they teach them?’” (Lickona 2004) In 1992, diverse groups of ethicists, teachers, and youth-service professionals met in a conference in Aspen, Colorado. Their goal was to come to agreement on what values should be taught in the schools. And they did it! Their final declaration resulted in the Character Counts movement and consisted of the following values: respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, justice and fairness, caring, and civic virtue and citizenship (Josephson 2007).

In a 1997 poll done by Newsweek, 506 parents were asked what their most important goal was for their children, ages 0-3 years. The most common response, accounting for 48% of the given responses, was “making sure their child grows up to be a moral person” (McDaniel 1998). One can only hope that, now, in 2021, parents feel the same. I know that as a relatively new parent myself, I applaud this way of thinking!

Finally, studies indicate that teaching values in the schools has had positive effects. Youth Opportunities Unlimited is an alternative public school in San Diego, California that teaches at-risk students who have been expelled from other schools. When values began being taught at this school, the dropout rate decreased from 23% to 13% in two years (Schaeffer 2000). 25 elementary and middle schools in Los Angeles reported that “major discipline problems decreased by 25 percent; minor discipline problems went down 39 percent; suspensions fell by 16 percent; tardiness dropped by 40 percent; and unexcused absences declined by 18 percent” as a result of a pilot program initiated by the Jefferson Center for Character Education. Similar statistical results were found in Utah and as far away as London. Ronni Ephraim, who handled students who were referred to her for discipline, said the line outside her office grew smaller and smaller as this program was implemented, until it was gone (Brandt 1993). I’m sure other schools would be interested in seeing the same kind of results. Character education appears to be a very effective way of achieving them.

Values are not “extra;” they’re a part of life and need to remain in education. The issue should never be “Should we teach values?” but “Which ones and how?” Finally, teaching values to children everywhere is not only the right thing to do, but it gets results. Now we as teachers just need to be prepared to do it.


Brandt, R.S., ed. (1993). Educational Leadership 51 (3), p. 21, 42, 46, 68.

Esquith, R. (2003). There are no shortcuts. New York: Anchor Books, p. 58, 148.

Indiana clearinghouse for citizenship and character education. Retrieved December 4, 2007, from

Josephson Institute. (2007). The Aspen Declaration. Retrieved December 14, 2007, from

Lickona, T. (2004). Summing up the case for values education. Retrieved October 26, 2007, from

McDaniel, A.K. (1998). Character education: Developing effective programs. Journal of extension 36 (2). Retrieved November 29, 2007, from

(2003). Remarks of secretary Paige at the character education partnership 10th anniversary dinner. Retrieved October 26, 2007, from

Schaeffer, E.F. (2000). Implementing character education. Electronic journal of the state department 5 (2). Retrieved October 26, 2007, from
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