I would like to offer my experiences of musical education, seeing as there is a good chance teachers will be reading through this forum.
I have always loved music, but I find that at 32 I am still digging to find rock on which to build my house
moreover, I look around and I see a lot of houses built upon the sand
An honest account will probably help someone... if it is true that we learn more from failure than from success, there will be plenty to be learned here. At the least it will help me to learn myself:
I remember disliking recorder lessons as I didn't like sticking the thing in my mouth; I didn't like the taste of it, and I didn't like the whiny sound. of course a good teacher would have noticed these things, but of course nobody did.
my primary sense was logic, I think, and I could only comprehend the simple logic of holes 123 representing C D E ... I couldn't figure out the advanced notes formed by cording.
if something seemed to be against logic I would reject it...
also singing was 'forbidden' at home, not consciously, but my father (despite possessing a huge and carefully chosen classical collection -- he would buy several different recordings to find one he liked) had decided he was unmusical, and assumed that his children also had no musical potential. ' I can't sing, you can't sing, we sing like frogs haha '... damaging! my mother would sing in the kitchen and be castigated by my father for being tone deaf.
I remember my first piano lessons, I memorised middle C as the note slightly to the right of the keyhole that locked the lid. of course the piano at home had the keyhole in a different place, so I got confused.
then I was probably learning the notes by counting upwards from C. so G and A were always confusing, but I didn't really know whether it would be more productive to count up or down.
my music teacher was probably in his 70s, and didn't really have a clue. I didn't want to be there, but no one cared for my opinion, no one asked whether I was having fun... I was about 8 iirc
I'm just sharing this by the way in case other teachers are reading... some of this could be useful.
another thing I remember was a group of kids playing some theme on the piano, chords would go C A G F ( and repeat ) and the melody would go C- C- C- -- -C BA BC D- E- E- E- -- -E DC DE F- G- G- C- .... anyway when they reach the end they would modulate up a semi-tone, and start all over. I felt excluded from this group because they were speaking a language I couldn't understand. I liked the sound, but I couldn't join in because I didn't have a clue, I was stuck with ' every good boy deserves food, so it's the one above food so it's G ', and then counting upwards from C. one of the boys was really friendly and offered to teach me, but I was scared I didn't understand, I didn't want to let the world know, I somehow had to conceal the secret. I desperately wanted to join in, but I pretended it was somehow beneath me.
and I ended up concealing it by learning really difficult pieces of piano music in the same stupid way, memorising finger movement. becoming pretentious. it created a warped and dishonest personality in me, and sadly nobody noticed to knock it on the head.
all very damaging and retarded. And once I finally became free of this unconscious behaviour pattern ( simply observing unconscious behaviour liberates us of it ), some 15 years later, I can see it everywhere around me.
I see it in a lot of music teachers, because that is the next step. if the game is to convince the environment that he are musical, then becoming a teacher is the logical move. he can convince children that they are unmusical, of course they will not understand, as he himself doesn't understand. so they will consider themselves stupid, consider the teacher higher, this will feed the ego of the teacher.
I wonder how much damage is done in this way?
Now what on earth are these ridiculous musical Grade examinations? they fail to test musicality. even a performance diploma can be faked by a charlatan, who is persistent enough to remember the finger movements.
the first grade should be absolutely free of any instrument. It should clearly determine whether the student is able to repeat a melody, to hold pitch (sing three verses and come back to the same point ), maybe to improvise a simple tune in response to a baseline, and provide a simple baseline in response to a tune. maybe a couple of rhythmic tests, a simple call and repeat on a Djembe maybe.
identifying the notes should also be a component, may be not essential for passing, but the student should be flagged as tonally blind if they are unable to identify notes.
I would fail at this first test. As I should. I am not yet grounded. I haven't yet hit rock.
Chopin said ' if you wish to play, you must first learn to sing '
I am starting right from the beginning. For the first time in my life I do not care about being retarded, uncool, unmusical, whatever! I can now sing ' three blind mice ', and pick out the baseline on the guitar. I still can't identify pitches. But I'm working at it. 100% of my focus is towards the music and 0% is towards impressing imaginary people
You could say this is a difference between a showman and a seeker, the showman hides his weakness and develops his strength. he has something to show. but a seeker always finds his greatest weakness, by constantly turning attention towards the greatest weakness we become really strong. but coating an old car with a new coat of paint will be heading for an accident.
as a last note, I remember ' playing by ear ', carried a taboo, an association of being a bit of a hack, a 'jazz' musician, not properly classically trained, a bit of a musical mongrel, something a little bit common, like the milkman whistling. I don't know how on earth this association could have been formed in my mind. As I see it now as the pinnacle of musicianship. The ignorance of berating that which we do not understand...
Share tips and suggestions for working with your students.
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