Music News

Kids love music, and if exposed to good playing, they love all kinds of music.  But, sadly, Michelle is probably on target in her recent post (Using Technology to Teach Classical Music) when she says kids do not look forward to studying about classical music.  Why should that be?  What is not exciting about Stravinsky, Prokoviev, Beethoven, Copland, to name a few?  Is it a teaching problem fixable by technology, or a cultural problem?

Years ago I saw a survey about kids’ musical preferences in a major newspaper.  Kids were asked what their favorite music was, but of all the types of music they were allowed to choose from, two notable types were missing: classical and folk.  Instead I noticed a category called “slow music,” which of course did not receive many votes.  Why did researchers offer kids the choice of “slow music” and leave out classical or folk?  They didn’t even kids a chance to answer for themselves.

I explored the “slow music” question while doing some music demonstrations for 7th graders.  When asked what “slow music” was, some kids said it was classical.  So I played them a slow Scottish fiddle air, and then a fast classical violin piece by Bach.  This intrigued them.

Sometimes the presumptions of researchers–or teachers, parents, and administrators–put words in kids’ mouths, and ideas in their heads.  Of course, this is what teachers and parents are supposed to do.  But in catering to what we presume to be the interests of kids, is it possible we sometimes merely follow instead of lead?   [···]

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Let’s compare two different worlds we live in–making music and using the internet.

According to Gallup polls, 95% of Americans feel that music is part of a well-rounded education. Between 78% and 93% feel that learning to play music makes people smarter, results in better grades for kids in other subjects, helps teach discipline, and helps build friendships.

A recent Harris poll has shown that 88% of people with post-graduate education were involved in music in school, and 83% of those earning over $150,000 had a music education. Researchers explained the connection between music and income partly by pointing to the life skills learned through the discipline and the strong experience of working together with others.

One of the researchers pointed out that the beauty of music is that it brings “both hard work and enjoyment together, which doesn’t always happen elsewhere.”

It certainly doesn’t happen everywhere. While music students learn about real-world struggles and rewards in a very immediate way, our growing infatuation with computers allows many to fantasize that they can “cut to the chase”– [···]

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If you are like me, buying numerous subscriptions to all of the music magazines you could be interested in would really break the bank. Plus, who has the time to hunt for articles on the topics that you are interested in. On a recent internet hunt, I found a helpful site that has access to articles from several music magazines and it is all free.


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