The author penned this piece while listening to a debate about El Sistema on British Television. He lists... and then beautifully debunks the following 'myths' about music and music education - and we think he's spot on:
Myth: a symphony orchestra is a fantastic vehicle for learning. No, it's not – it's one of the most didactic, even dictatorial, modes of learning, where you have lots and lots of nothing to do, but become bore.
Myth: young people are 'missing out' on classical music, and classical music will be dead unless we get them to concerts. No, it won't. Concert halls have always been full of older people, it's something that some of us grow to love, like gardening. And they're not missing out on anything – they've heard it, they just don't like it (at the moment).
Myth: if you get your Dad to take you, when you're a kid, you'll be hooked for life – it's just like football. No, it's not. If your Dad takes you to the football, you can pretty much do what you like. If you applaud in between movements at a classical concert, you'll be made to feel like an uneducated oik (trust me, I was that uneducated oik).
Myth: if music education in school introduced kids to classical music early enough, we'd create younger audiences for the future. No, you won't. Orchestras have been doing outreach work for decades, and the demographic mix at concerts remains the same as it always was.
That's jolly good stuff and we couldn't have said it better ourselves. Music - the supposed language of the world - is far too often an exclusive club. And rather than thinking creatively to reach and retain more enthusiasts, educators are often slow to adopt new teaching methods and too quickly rely on studies about the importance of music and its 'cognitive' benefits to justify their programs.
How about creating a solid community of enthusiasts online, teaching concepts rather than 'pieces of music', and making certain that music is a treated as a verb rather than a noun? As Chris Small says in his book called Musicking, "music should be viewed as an act instead of a thing. Music is something you do, something you share", and it is valid at every level.
Read the full post here.