The first thing a decent music teacher needs to be able to do is prick up your ears yourself. Then he would hear a few sounds that he has no idea about. So everything his students post on their cell phones, on YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok.
This would also make a classical music teacher realize that his world, around which the curriculum revolves, has long faded away. Setting the tone for the student body is what Bluetooth devices emit. In contrast, terms such as subdominant, sonata or seventh do not appear in the vocabulary of seven to 13 year old’s. Hardly anyone has heard anything from Mozart to Mahler. But does it really matter?
Music lessons are too often canceled, they say, and if there are, then often from non-specialist teachers. What speaks against it when a math teacher sings “Yesterday” by the Beatles with a warm baritone or the sports teacher sings a song by Billie Eilish ? What should the music-theoretical knowledge about the baroque to late romantic high culture period, when everyone has already decided for themselves what they want to hear, experience and revere?
If music lessons are to make sense, children should learn instruments, drums, violin, electric bass or how to play a song they have invented on the computer. All of this is less something for the graded classroom teaching, it is a highly individual matter.
But it would be enough for now if the teachers had their ears ringing from everything that the kids are currently getting intoxicated with in terms of songs and raps. Every social studies, German, math or religion teacher is at least as capable of doing this as a trained music teacher. If not better.
The ability to enjoy music and express oneself musically is fundamental to being human.
A hundred times more important than the recently hyped “digital skills”. If you make music yourself, you understand more of the music you hear. Like everywhere else in music, the more you know, the more you understand and enjoy.
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Those who can make music or dance themselves gain friends and self-confidence, can comfort themselves in difficult hours, train concentration, endurance, fine motor skills and body control, and train mathematical thinking. As with any craft skill , mastering an instrument is important for brain development. In short: there is hardly any other lesson that could do more to educate people.
Certainly we don’t need bitter would-be professional musicians at school who only promote the talented.
But certainly not – as is all too often the case today – we need people who are convinced that all children are talented, but cannot play an instrument or sing properly themselves; let alone that they know how to teach this to children in a fun way. We need more and better music lessons, and therefore more and better music teachers.