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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

First the playing, then the lesson

I was talking with a great guy who invented the 'rock-school on wheels' ('rijdende popschool'). He gives villages with a couple of hundred of inhabitants the opportunity to have a rock-school installed in the village - he just needs a space, drives in the instruments and the bandcoaches, and starts a couple of rock groups.

There were approximately 98 reasons why I liked his initiative so much. I will not list them here. But one of the things that struck me was that he told me that he did not start with instrumental lessons but with playing in a band. "If they are playing for some time, some of them will want to have lessons; and the rest learns to play as they go", he said.

It does by sheer coincidence match with what I wrote in my previous blog, about the guy wanting to buy an electric guitar. And it completely does not match with the usual ideas we have about how to learn to play music. First take lessons and practice; then, at some point, if you're good enough, start playing together.

Of course, for many people, that point never comes, and they quit lessons and playing.

And, by the way, do you think that you learn to play the gamelan or the djembe in that way?

We too often think that learning to play is done in a lesson. But it is worthwhile to think differently. First, you learn to play. Then, you may take lessons. If only, because only then you know what you would like to learn more about.

One of 98 reasons to be a fan of the 'rock-school on wheels'.

Singing in the Classroom

This morning I published a small opiniating article in national newspaper Trouw. Message: first thing to do for music education in primary schools is to invest in singing classroom teachers.

Lots of reactions. Sad: people recognize that the state of music education in primary schools in many places is so feeble that priority now is something too obvious for words: SING! Happy: people embrace the simple idea that priority now is something too obvious for words: SING!

Monday, 15.40, I am expected to explain myself on Radio 1.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Some Recent Small Stories

A man tells me that, now that he has turned fifty, he should do his midlife crisis. As he had been interested in punk music for a long time, he said he would, rather than buy a motor cycle, buy an electric guitar and play it very loud. 'Coming of age', as it were,

A musician-friend who followed our conversation tells him she knows a good teacher.

Or:

An older man visits me at the conservatoire. It turns out he loves to visit concerts. "But I am not musical at all, of course", he adds hastily. "I don't play any instrument whatsoever."

When did we start to think of music as a specialism? And why?