Here is a short article exploring some of the often contentious issues regarding music practice. In it, I discuss how informed practice works to consolidate learning and thus the importance of appropriate preparation on the part of the students before commencing.
I also examine how the teacher’s guidance during the lesson can make practice more meaningful and productive for the student, and how careful a choice of words can make affect attitudes towards it. This is all of vital importance, because, as we know, the majority of the learning takes place away from the lessons – and away from the teacher!
This article deals with one of the problems that, for many teachers, is the most challenging: how do we keep everyone involved while at the same time, giving due attention to the problems of individuals?
You will find several solutions and discover why this calculation is correct!
There has been much debate recently regarding an article that appeared in The Guardian on March 27th bemoaning the ever-diminishing provision and status of music education in the UK: a valid subject, well worth any number of column inches, given the decline in school music provision not “since 2010, when the baccalaureate was introduced” as the author Charlotte C. Gill states, but since the early 1980s at the hands of Margaret Thatcherand Sir Keith Joseph; a trend that shows no sign of being reversed – at least in terms of government policy. Ms Gill makes some valid points concerning the importance of music education albeit in a confusing and sometimes self-contradictory manner. The two key issues she sees are that music education in the UK has become the preserve of a predominantly white, middle-class, academic mindset (in other words, ‘elitist’) and that teaching with an emphasis on music notation is a dominant symptom of the overly academic approach to musical pedagogy. This, she claims, renders the subject inaccessible and irrelevant to the needs of many if not the majority of school age students. As she puts it, ”music has always been taught in a far too academic way, meaning that theoretical knowledge is the main route to advancement”. In response, there has been an outcry of indignation in the form of a letter published in The Guardian, with several musical luminaries among its signatories, and a plethora of articles and blog posts shared on social media. Several of these demonstrate a clear grasp of the issues surrounding music provision, but others, unfortunately, also contain contradictions and mixed messages even to the extent that, in effect, they lend support to some of Ms Gill’s claims. It is not possible, therefore, to come down firmly on one side of the debate or the other since there appear to be extremely valid points as well as errors and assumptions on both sides.Continue reading “Music Education’s Love Affair with Literacy (it’s complicated)”
As we all know, group teaching is a controversial topic. One of the most frequent objections to it (in my experience) is that since no two students will progress at the same rate, or in the same way, the activity is doomed to failure because the less able students will hold the faster learners back and conversely, the faster learners will leave the slower ones behind. A ‘lose-lose’ situation, to coin a phrase.
However, I believe that these differences can indeed be accommodated
This article deals with one of the problems that, for many teachers, is the most challenging: how do we keep everyone involved while at the same time, giving due attention to the problems of individuals.
You will find solutions and discover why this ‘equation’ is correct!
During the 1990s, I was director of a music support service for schools in the UK. We provided mainly group lessons, so when interviewing prospective teachers, I would ask them what they saw as the advantages or disadvantages of group tuition as opposed to one- to- one teaching. Their answers almost always (and I mean in more than 90% of cases), dwelt on the perceived disadvantages and very, very few advantages would be identified. Some would say things like “Well, obviously, the best situation is individual tuition, but …”
Actually, I prefer ‘practice makes permanent‘! Here is a short article about the thorny issue of music practice – how the teacher’s guidance during the lesson can make it more meaningful and desirable to the student, and how careful a choice of words can make a big difference to attitudes to practice. All very important because of course, the majority of the learning takes place away from the lessons and the teacher! Excuse me…