Pamela Jordan is our new Guest Blogger!
Why do some of us make music?
Singing has always been a simple natural way to express feelings.
A mother sings to her belly.
Many of us sing in the shower.
The monks sing to connect themselves with the heavens.
We love to sing.
Enter ingenuity and now we have extensions or substitutes for our voice – musical instruments.
We can ‘sing’ in many ways these days – alone, in a group, for leisure and professionally.
We can also sing naturally without being taught.
Not so easily done with a musical instrument though.
And here we come up to a kind of cross road.
How should music be taught?
For children it is often associated with achievement and perfection and competition and assessment. We live in a bench-marked education system.
For many years, in Australia at least, children learning music has been largely linked with yearly exams. The Australian Music Examinations Board (widely known as the AMEB) has celebrated it’s 100 year anniversary. There has also been an explosion of children learning music at school and participating in one of a number of school bands. Associated with being in the band is performing in various competitions.
Clearly these competitive assessment systems have their advantages, and there are many.
There are also, disadvantages.
If learning to play a musical instrument is about having a way to express our feelings and improve our wellbeing, then is it healthy to predominantly associate it with achievement, perfection, competition and assessment? I’m wondering if the rise of performance anxiety has a lot to do with the blending of two pursuits that were never meant to be together?
There are some children who thrive on competition. Many who don’t.
All too often I have spoken with adults who were pushed relentlessly to complete yearly music exams. Instead of a growing love of musical expression, attunement with their feelings, and deeply nurturing self-care, their lasting impression of making music was a kind of tortured purgatory. No wonder someone I spoke with recently had only resentment towards the old piano she inherited and couldn’t wait to get rid of it.
Sad, when it can be a source of unfettered joy.
Making music is a natural self-expression and one of the most profound ways to centre ourselves, and also to harmonise with others.
In our desire to have intelligent kids and keep up in our benchmark society’s hunger for achievement, are we pushing some children to become emotionally unhealthy.
Are we pushing some to be someone they are not?
Purple Tempo, your musical life