Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What About Bob?

This post was a reply to a blog at Music Teacher's Helper. Ed Pearlman posed an interesting question about a hypothetical private music student named Bob. Although he did not give personal details, I presume Bob is a professional adult probably in mid-life career mode. One thing is for sure, Bob loves his music and music lessons.

You can read the entire post here:

What Would You Do? - Bob (#7)

Here is the response:

I know Bob really well. Bob is as passionate about playing as I am teaching. Bob gets about 5% of a new idea each week (maybe) and is happy as a clam to get that. I know Bob loves music and is a life-long learner. My relationship with him goes way beyond his instrument. I know his family and kids, what he does for work and what he dreads. The last thing I will do is 'require' him to play anything.... though he might tell you how I 'gently nag' him to help keep things fresh and moving along.

Music educators should love Bob. There should be professional facilities in every major city who cater to all of the Bob's in the world. If we marketed to all of the Bob's the way say, fishing and golf has marketed to their 'fans', then we wouldn't be begging for jobs every year in academia.

It's the student that matters - not musical results. In Bob we have a life long music lover, a life long music purchaser and a life long learner.

That's a win-win!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Reply to Scott at Music Teacher Cafe

Scott Ashby has reformatted his blog at Music Teacher Cafe and it looks great. He recently read our post from March 10, 2009 that talked about people wanting a shortcut, a magic pullet, a secret potion for learning music whereby they can bypass 'all that note reading stuff'. His quote "Why is it that some people count not reading music as a virtue?" is right on. It prompted me to put together this reply:

Music educators have done a woefully poor job of promotion through the years; beginning with Lowell Mason and the Boston School Board and continuing now with 'Save the Music' programs (which are couched as being 'for the kids' but in reality, they're simply trying desperately to save band, choir and orchestra jobs).

Instead of capitalizing on the popularity of Rock Band, Guitar Hero and all other advances in technology, we choose to stick our collective heads in the ground and wonder why school music programs are dwindling.

There's a right way to go about it that will lead to a lifetime of joy for all who choose to partake. It's about relationships as well as delivery.
Part of the current 'process' is teaching students to play Jingle Bells by the week after Thanksgiving - what adult cares about that? What kid in 2009 for that matter? That is equivalent to going for golf lessons and spending the first 6 months learning to master 'the windmill hole'.

We need to promote music education as a viable commodity without relying on academia for a market. It's dwindling anyway. The general public need to hear the message: enjoy the process of learning the language of music. There's no need to become a 'star', just enjoy music as a hobby like you would golf, gardening or reading. If we are successful, we can rejuvenate a struggling music education profession through private enterprise and 'save the music' programs will be a thing of the past.