Given appropriate bounds as it relates to standards and best practice, I think it is important for each teacher to cater to his or her strengths and make the course interesting for him or herself as well as the students. I think that it is easier to teach if you are passionate about the material. When I was looking at the past course description I wasn't very excited about the course and I knew if wouldn't be a good fit for me or the kids. The class was labeled as African Drumming and I didn't dig the all fun description. I needed a way to of course have fun but not a joke.
I was able to step into teaching this class and ask some of my kids who had taken the class before about how it went and what they liked about it. After talking to colleagues from other schools, staff, and students, they all said the same thing - after about 2 weeks interest fades and how to you fill a class if you only drum all of the time? To be fair, my training is pretty limited, and I am not a master drummer, but the kids need other ways to engage and in all fairness, the material is so rich that it warrants some important discussions and self reflection.
Soooo, I say make your class work for you.
I will start with what doesn't or hasn't worked for me...
I was trained in some traditional African dance over the summer at a drumming symposium and I just remember thinking, "I will never do this!" It is very cool, but there was no way the kids would do this with me. Some could argue with me on this, but it was not going to happen with the kids in my class and I didn't feel like I could do this in an authentic way, so I didn't and probably won't.
Also, in the drumming curriculum there is a lot of singing. This also was not going to happen. You can also argue with me on this, but I just didn't do it. Maybe some day I will, but I don't now and won't in the future. For some people this is a great solution, for me, the high school kids are not going to engage in this way. I am not closed to ever doing it and it is not that I don't feel comfortable, but I just accept that the kids do not want to do this.
What does work for me, my kids, and the course...
I love music history, world music, and learning about the African diaspora, so that is what we did. I created the first part of the title as World Music so that it was apparent that could spend time learning about music from all over the world, not just Africa, and the Drumming part covered the experiential aspect of the class. This allowed the course description to be open enough for the class to explore more historical and cultural elements while also working on making music. Other teachers could do things differently, but these are my strengths and what has worked out well for my class.
You could argue, wouldn't you do that anyways - include cultural teaching with music making? The answer is yes, of course, but at least at my school the course descriptions really matter and shape how the kids register. If they think they are going to be drumming all of the time, they are not in the right class. The inclusion of the in depth history is a great pairing with their human geography class, American history and the inclusion of writing, reading, primary sources analysis, and presentations helps give academic merit to the course. I should add we also have a guitar class that is mostly experiential. Which is awesome, but it is not how I want to do my class. I just find it hard to keep the momentum going and I feel responsible, given my population of kids, to expose them to as much diversity as possible.
In addition, the class just doesn't float without something more tangible for the kids to express their learning. At least for my kids, if there isn't some kind of grading attached to an activity, they simply don't try. Which honestly, I don't blame them. So, I like to give the kids something they can do, even if it a self assessment or something formative, to keep them honest and engaged.
In addition, you (admin/parents/whomever doesn't find value in the arts) can look and see that my curriculum rocks. The kids are writing, they are reflecting about race/culture/and difference, they are making cool music together, they are looking at primary sources, listening to podcasts, and hopefully understanding the world a little differently. If teachers aren't assessing, what do you have to show for your work if there is no concert involved. The kids write everyday and you can show parents when their kids does or doesn't do everyday. Even if there is a concert, it is poor form to not have the learning traced.
Anyways, make the course work for you and your passions. There is nothing saying you can't have the class be the way you want it to be. Keep it general, but worth assessing and play to your strengths.