Learning institutions are considered as one of the most primary resources for educating our youth. But there is a contradiction that one should know about. In actual fact, many are paradoxes. And this fact misleads society from the true value and importance of music.
When schools hire music instructors, you will notice that they usually hire highly educated teachers, who, on top of their degrees, possess various specialized music teaching credentials, for which they have additionally trained for. However, despite this fact, schools usually counter the efforts to teach music properly by either degrading it in various ways or not hiring enough music instructors. This may be related to budget cuts, but that’s another matter.
The main degradation derives from a poor societal viewpoint on music: that music is merely entertainment and not a serious or worthwhile subject. Of course, music does have an entertaining value, but as you know from my previous articles, it is much, much more and is quite fundamental to the enrichment of students’ lives.
For example, special needs children usually have their own classroom as their needs are unique and they don’t usually participate academically with the general student body. However, counselors will recommend that they participate in learning music as part of the collective student body. This is wrong and unfair to those special needs children, as it denies them true music appreciation. How? By first, degrading it to them as mere “amusement” and second, by teaching it to them at the incorrect level. Music, as with any other subject, requires specific and proper teaching and has its own circumstances and challenges.
Another example is with choral workshops. It takes a certified conductor to teach these. Yet, in many cases, the home room teacher, who knows nothing about music, is assigned to this task. You cannot teach a specialized subject without being properly trained in how to do so. For instance, imagine if someone wanted to learn sign language and was taught by someone who simply invented hand gestures. How far would that go? Exactly. The same principle applies here.
How many times have you seen a preschool or kindergarten teacher simply do sing-a-longs with their students? The majority of people consider that this is all there is to teaching music to children of that age group. Especially at such a young age, music should be taught correctly using rhythm instruments and music theory specialized for children of that age in order to build their motor skills. But do the majority of people know this? Not many people do. That’s because music is a specialized, scientific and academic subject that must be taught correctly and not merely relegated to mediocre instructors or, worse, considered trivial. Do we send our children to school to be educated or just to be amused?
This deterioration of the value of music, perpetrated in this manner, has misled our society. Though many parents choose to have their children learn how to play an instrument of some sort (including singing), they are being denied the true value of what their children can potentially gain. As covered in earlier articles, the benefits of learning music properly (not from just any teacher either) are immense and greater in value than one even realizes. However, with this general lack of understanding, music lessons have become “trendy” and done simply to keep up with the Jones’ or to occupy time and prevent boredom or simply something to do for lack of something better. Our society has become wrongheaded and is really missing out.
In order to improve this situation, one can be causative about it. Private music lessons, with a high quality instructor who also incorporates teaching theory, are an invaluable investment. Also, good conservatories are as well. But not everyone is able to do this, due to lack of finances or available resources. Yet, everyone should have a right to learn music properly. Hopefully, our society will recognize its mistake and give value to music and strengthen it or reinstate in our learning facilities, especially our public ones. The key to this is raising awareness. So one should do what he or she can to support that, especially for the sake of our future generation.
by Evelyn Simonian
© 2012. Evelyn Simonian