Traditional and Non Traditional Methods of Music Education
By Dr. Rizz
Traditional music education puts note reading high on its list of priorities. Despite the lack of the ability of many children to sing in tune or to move rhythmically and with style, we teach them to decipher the code of musical notation. “F is the first space. A whole note gets four counts. Etc.” Furthermore, we complicate the process of music making by teaching executive skills to them at the expense of teaching musicianship. “Push this button down to get this note. Tap your foot. Sit up straight.” The last thing the student is being directed to do is to make a musical product.
If you draw an analogy to language learning, it’s as if you’re asking a toddler who does not have command of his/her language to learn the alphabet as a way to make him literate. Or consider this question: Ever hear a child read every word of a paragraph and then when you ask him to tell you about what he read and he can’t tell you? Where’s the comprehension? It was in the thinking (or lack thereof) that accompanied the reading. With music, all the necessary skills are for naught if there is no musical “thinking.” Understanding music doesn’t come as a byproduct of traditional instruction. It’s fundamental and must be taught.
Can we learn to focus on this as a priority in our music teaching?