Tag Archives: Music

A response to the National Curriculum consultation

Music, and therefore Music education, is about composing, performing and listening (which is a discrete activity, but pervades both composing and performing too).

Aims

Music can and should be more than just ‘play time’ though, and layering theoretical concepts to be explored through compositional improvisation is a good way to teach.

WordsFinding a way to jot down ideas soon becomes necessary, and interpreting the ideas of others, desirable.  Of course, actually recording students’ work is an invaluable tool too.

In praise of the Arts

HuxleyMusic is like a soap bubble. We can bring it into being with the scantest resources. We watch, transfixed, as the colours dance over its vulnerable skin until it ceases to exist any longer, and then we’re returned, perhaps changed in some small way, to our previous reality. Music is an ephemeral conjuring trick, where an artist entrances you for as long as you care to be compelled. Some would say that as such, it has no value, and no place in education. But they’d be wrong on both points.

Music is an elementary language of immense power, born out of an innate layer of code at the kernel of our instinct. A language learned from the physics of nature at the beginning of time, reinforced throughout life, developed, and passed on to others. It has as much grammar and syntax as any statement. It is a language at least as powerful as speech, capable of moving us to tears, to dance, to laughter, to serene pleasure. It can aid your workout, and open your mind to learn. It can be a group’s totem and a call to battle. And such a powerful ‘substance‘, however ephemeral, surely demands our study.

Now imagine a world without Drama: no TV or film, no plays at the theatre. Without Design, Dance or Art for ergonomic and visual pleasure. And without Music. Living in such a monochrome environment would be a drab and intolerable existence. For that reason alone, we need to get our hands dirty, and mould the elements of composition into form, and to express our work. Humanity was born expressing itself. We have been creating for hundreds of generations. It would be wrong to attempt to stifle such basic human instinct. We should in stead strive to exceed the zenith reached by former practitioners.

So it’s a thing of immense power. And it’s something we’re born to do. But there’s a third reason not to listen to those who maintain that STEM is the only thing that matters for the economy. For research has shown conclusively that music, and the Arts, not only make unique contributions to the curriculum and in turn, to the economy; they also facilitate the learning of other subjects. Maths and reading, and the acquisition of languages are all aided by doing music. Fine motor skills are developed, problem solving improved, and thinking on a higher, creative level is exercised. So it turns out that 50 minutes spent banging on a xylophone each week, isn’t wasted time after all.