ORIGINS OF THE MUSIC AS A SECOND LANGUAGE METHOD
In 1992, Wish began a decade-long public school teaching career in the field of bilingual education. His students were Spanish-speaking immigrant children of Mexican and Guatemalan heritage. As part of his professional training, Wish studied English a Second Language (ESL) teaching techniques and was especially influenced by the work of linguist Stephen Krashen and his writings on language acquisition.
In 1996, Wish began offering music classes to his first-grade students because his school had no instrumental music program. “Shortly after I began teaching kids to play guitar,” says Wish, “I realized that the specific tactics I was using were frequently repurposed ESL techniques. More importantly, my whole philosophy and approach borrowed directly from the central hypothesis of Stephen Krashen’s “Theory of Second Language Acquisition.”
The music classes that Wish offered his students were very popular with students and produced results that quickly surprised and delighted the local community. His young pupils began performing in public, releasing original recordings of their own music and improvising with their young peers. Students from his classes were featured in TIME, People Magazine, Good Morning America and elsewhere.
Emboldened by the successes of his students, Wish formalized his approach and called it the “Music As a Second Language” or MSL method. He began to train other public school teachers to use the MSL Method in their own classrooms. The response from teachers was overwhelmingly positive and MSL classes began spreading rapidly. What began as a single teacher’s approach to music education has since catapulted onto the national stage and now represents one of the fastest spreading pedagogies in the field of music education.