The eloquent speech was given to our local branch of registered music teachers by a retired choral director and music teacher educator. He gave a plea to music teachers to conserve the musical tradition we have inherited – sounds without technology, the absence of sound (silence) that is necessary to hear our inner thoughts, the need to teach others to learn and appreciate acoustic music – the best gift we can give.
An unfortunate comment that many parents make, he said, is to “just have fun” as they drop off their kids at the music lessons. His argument was that learning and fun are then linked – with the implication that if it’s not fun, there’s no learning. What we should be doing is communicating that the pay-off is not the immediate adrenaline rush but the long-term satisfaction.
I’m all for hard work. And fun. When students comment on how hard something is, often (not always) the best response is to agree with them. Validate that feeling. It IS hard – and they need to know that – and not feel that they’re missing something or worse, that they’re stupid. Small, immediate rewards go a long way in producing some gratification while learning that difficult notation and the controlled physical efforts necessary to play an instrument. Stickers. Playing duets. Introducing sounds they’ve never heard. I think these can all be categorized under “fun.” The use of apps and other technology to make learning fun is fare for another post – stay tuned.
Much new music and many methods focus on the fun factor. Of course, they’re trying to sell books. I’ve heard every argument on every side when it comes to selling particular products. In the end, I remain convinced that the quality of the music – whatever the genre – has to take precedence. Good music presented enthusiastically will be recognized and appreciated.
Student comment of the week: I played and assigned Bach’s Little Prelude BWV 999 (the one originally written for lute) to a student. She was already out the door at the end of the lesson when she came back in and said, “My mom is going to have a hard time getting me away from the piano with that piece.” Yay.
The great Andres Segovia playing this prelude on guitar (yes, it’s in a different key).