Monday, July 7, 2008

Embrace the Process, Beware the Shortcut

I have visited many music education related blogs over the past few weeks and have thoroughly enjoyed reading the opinions of my colleagues across the country and the world. We are an amazing group of thoughtful and intelligent professionals! Among the plethora of sites I visited however, there were a number that make fantastic and sometimes outlandish claims:

Cut 'your learning time in half' boasts one, offering 'tons of shortcuts' that evidently have never before been revealed. Another site has this bold and amazing statement; 'YOU DO NOT HAVE TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT MUSIC'
and after just 30 minutes you'll be playing 'DOZENS OF SONGS WITHOUT STRUGGLING, WITHOUT BORING EXERCISES AND YOU DO NOT EVEN HAVE TO READ MUSIC'!

Now I am all about entrepreneurship, especially in our profession - believe me, but I am just as passionate about promoting quality music education throughout our communities. So rather than name names, I thought I'd cast this sobering thought out to the blogosphere; embrace the process, beware the shortcut. Remember, this goes for both the learner and the teacher.

I hope that teachers with passion will encourage learners to embrace the process of discovering musical concepts and manage the challenges that come with applying those concepts to any instrument. And I hope that music enthusiasts choose to embrace their amazing journey with excitement, optimism and realistic expectations.

Christopher Small, a very wise music philosopher once said that 'music should be viewed as an act instead of a thing'. He called the act musicking and claimed it to be valid at every level. Rather than searching for shortcuts, let's all remember that the connections formed around the act of hearing, learning and making music are what really matters.

So to teachers and students alike I say, choose your materials wisely and enjoy the process!





4 comments:

Mike Saville said...

Very true. We must guard against 'quick fix' solutions to learning music. Whilst there are ways to learn faster (thought, planning, focus, techniques) all of these require the individual to put in some effort.

One of my major worries is the plethora of sites and forums claiming authority on music learning. On this world wide web there is little to stand in the way of anyone offering an opinion. I would encourage everyone to question who has written the material you see online, what is their skill level and why they have written it. (Mike Saville - graduate of the Royal College of Music - London who wants everyone to practice better).

MusickEd.com said...

There's no better time to heed that wise old adage 'caveat emptor' than in this digital age where musings often pass as fact or worse yet, professional advice. Great advice Mike!

JodyStark3 said...

The term "musicking" was coined by Philip Alperson, and Small is quoting him. Regardless of who said it, it's a great thing to keep in mind as music educators and as we frame our teaching: music is what we do, it is not a thing. David Elliott says that music exists between the doer, the doing, and the listener. This small correction in our thinking invites our students into the world of being musicians who create something unique in the moment (even if it's Schubert), as opposed to simple admirers of static works of art. Musicking is personal! Thanks for firing my jets.

JodyStark3 said...

The term "musicking" was coined by Philip Alperson, and Small is quoting him. Regardless of who said it, it's a great thing to keep in mind as music educators and as we frame our teaching: music is what we do, it is not a thing. David Elliott says that music exists between the doer, the doing, and the listener. This small correction in our thinking invites our students into the world of being musicians who create something unique in the moment (even if it's Schubert), as opposed to simple admirers of static works of art. Musicking is personal! Thanks for firing my jets.

 
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