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Why aren't 14 year olds able to read music?

Discussion in 'Music' started by Phantom of the Opera, Jun 20, 2007.

  1. erp77

    erp77 New commenter

    It is not a crazy generalization
    from my experience, we are getting far too many pupils in yr 7 who have not had any music provision in primary school
    i said it's not ideal but i make the most of a bad job
  2. Phantom, what experience do you have of state schools? How many parents at your school could not afford even a cheap musical instrument (many in this category at mine, in a reasonably 'leafy' town)? How many, if given, say, a violin, could not afford a new string? Do you realise how little money some people have, and I don't mean the really poor, I just mean ordinary people? I'm pretty well off but however hard I saved I couldn't afford to send even one child to private school, not that I'd want to, but that's another issue. How many parents at your school are actively against their children learning a musical instrument? Did you even realise there are lots of people like that out there? Before you criticise music provision in state schools you need to get real. You don't seem to have a clue about what the real world, outside your cosy, well-off, well-supported private school is like.
  3. And, Phantom, what's the incidence of drug usage, domestic violence and teenage pregnancy amngst the famiies YOU teach? When children are growing up in homes where this is what they have to contend with, learning to read the notation of music, which they *can* listen to, and they *can* play, up to a point they are content with, without reading, comes very low on their list of priorities.
  4. Much as I agree with the general level of unhappiness a lot of you have with the op, I'm not going to throw accusations - not worth it and it would probably be welcomed by the OP.

    Despite being educated at a grammar school and then Oxford University, I have become absolutely passionate about teaching in state schools, and am going to take up a job as head of music in a city academy in September.

    I don't harmonise Bach Chorales, practise tenor clef in Palestrina exercises or aural dictation in 4 parts any more - not that I wouldn't enjoy it, it's just that I have changed direction. I absolutely love getting kids excited about music - the kind of kids for whom often school is a safe place away from the pressures of a hard home life. For me, stave notation is not the be all and end all - developing and encouraging a lifelong love of music is.

    Through loads of exciting practical activities (and yes, I am a devotee of musical futures), students will eventually start wondering how to write music down. They come to it themselves if they have the interest!

    The language of music is primarily aural. Get kids using their ears and their brains first and you'll have happier, more excited musicians who are hungry to learn everything they can about music, including how it's notated.
  5. erp77, you said.......

    "It all starts at KS3 in yr7.
    It shouldn't be like this but in far to many cases it is. There is NO music in many primary schools. Or if there is then it is only the odd peri coming in and teaching to a small handfull or the odd whole-school workshop here and there" that *IS* a crazy generalisation.

    Plenty happens in Jules's school and Gizzy's, and mine, and the five where I'm a peri, and all the others I know of. And every school I've taught in and most of the schools around those, in fact I know of none, NOT ONE, that fits your description, in the hundreds I have had contact with, of various kinds.

    "from my experience, we are getting far too many pupils in yr 7 who have not had any music provision in primary school"

    Two important points "from my experience" you say - possibly very narrow and pretty short??

    And, I learned very early on in teaching that just because my new year threes say they've never done area, or subtraction, or exclamation marks, doesn't mean that's true! Surely you don't BELIEVE what they tell you!! Good grief, if I believed half what my own children told me about school I'd be forever in the Head's office. A child's perspective is very.... not sure what word to use....selective, perhaps. And, you clearly expect they will have done nothing, and they will pick up that feeling, and say what you expect to hear.

    Those of us who know about teaching *children* rather than teaching *subjects* know that sort of thing.

    When the kids come back to see us they tell us all sorts of things about life in secondary school. Mainly stuff about how they are treated as if they know nothing, have done nothing, can do nothing, take responsibility for nothing, etc etc.

    I didn't really believe it until a) I did some teaching in a secondary school, as I mentioned elsewhere, and found the same kids who'd done great things in middle school in year 5-8 being made to do the same stuff - BUT AT A LOWER LEVEL OF EXPECTATION - because the staff assumed it hadn't been done *properly* in middle school. And b) until I read this thread!
  6. I'm very much in favour of teaching notation, and I think it should be done early, and I see no reason not to do it. Whatever we're doing in music in primary school - notation will make it easier. How much easier to hold an ostinato when the rhythm is written to remind you, I bring it in casually quite a lot, as well as activities specifically for notation. All my assembly hymns are on powerpoint, if there's a tricky bit of tune I use various props - adding the letter names above the words, or even putting the whole tune on powerpoint - especially for descants.

    However, I also think playing by ear is really important and among my peri pupils there are really talented kids who are good readers and really talented kids who are good players by ear or improvisers, and a few lucky ones who are both.

    When they get to secondary school, if they're not GCSE/A level likelys, I can't think of anything better than Musical Futures, it's fantastic what they're doing around here with that. If they ARE likely to do exams and can already read and play instruments traditionally - they'd still gets loads out of Musical Futures or that way of working.
  7. So many posts, such little worthwhile content.

    For the nosey: 15 years in state schools, 20 in current school. Yes it is an independent school but does a lot of outreach work in local state primaries, secondaries and the wider community and has many via schemes to encourage the less financially able to attend. And its not in England (thank goodness).

    gizzy - you do make me laugh with your total misunderstanding and utter nonsense. Still waiting for your explanation and apology - nice to see you have stopped further accusations though - maybe there is some hope for you.
  8. zia

    Musical Futures is music as entertainment and baby sitting, fun but not really of any educational benefit, a quick fix that merely encouarges a slide in standards and ignores the needs of the gifted and talented, the academically able and any child who wants to make genuine progress.
  9. Oh come ON! You haven't seen what I've seen then. It engages all the children, they all learn to actually do something which they are actually likely to use ever again. They may be grade zillion on whatever but, like many, unable to pick up a tune from hearing it - which others who play nothing (yet) can. It gets children who so far don't do so into playing.

    Entertainment and babysitting is what I'd call the colouring in, copying from textbooks, worksheets and wordsearches that is so much of secondary music education. Playing instruments through informal learning is useful stuff, and actually is music.

    All the peris had a session on electric guitars, basses and computers on our last training day, lead by Musical Futures experts. We all learned something and we all enjoyed it - or no-one seemed not to - and they generally make it clear if they think something is worthless.
  10. "Musical Futures experts" - now that makes me laugh!
  11. You see, the thing is, the "academically able" might not actually be as good at informal music learning as someone who isn't an advanced classical performer - and that's why you don't like it. It puts us in our place - and that's why you don't like it.
  12. Post 69 - experts in teaching the musical futures programme from three pioneer counties in that area. Real teachers. Inspiring. Knowledgable. Able to teach whoever comes. Even hard nosed classical peris - and that takes some doing.
  13. When I say in that area I mean the area of Musical Futures, not geographical area - the three counties are not particularly near each other. One was Herts, one Notts, can't remember the other.
  14. 71 - yes, I'm sure they are experts at their babysitting and entertaining - but I doubt ANY are experts in music education. And, after a few "lessons" brighter kids will see beyond the gloss and grins and detect the emperor has been out shopping for a new wardrobe....
  15. Oh dear, poor phantom, I do actually know what I'm talking about, as I've mentioned, I was asked to teach music in year 9 for a school near mine, and then asked to get them to do all those things, and not allowed to teach as I certainly could, being an experienced primary all rounder with music specialism.

    You don't like it when people generalise about your teaching do you - in the way you and one or two others on here have written off and tivialised all the great stuff going on in primary schools by the experts whose job it is to do that, as well as those fantastic, committed and dynamic teachers who teach in the roughest and toughest of secondary schools.
  16. Post 74 shows beyond a doubt that you have absolutely no first hand experience of what you aree trying to talk about. Bless.

    Abigail D'Amore, where are you?? Put him right better than I can, please!
  17. red-boxed
  18. Ok, maybe kids don?t need to be able to read music at GCSE level but what happens when that kid, who can?t read music, comes out with a very respectable B grade and then wants to do A-Level music? For very basic analysis at A-Level you NEED to be able to read music. You NEED to be able to look at a score and know what?s happening. You also NEED to understand the relationship between keys, i.e. tonic and dominant and how is this possible if that kid has never heard of a key signature? It?s these kids that are hard done by. They are able musicians, they?ve proved that with their GCSE grades but they struggle when it comes to A-Level and probably not because they?re not able but because somewhere along the line they?ve been failed by the teachers who say that traditional notation isn?t important.

    If these kids had been exposed to traditional notation over the years and had theory drip fed to them throughout KS 1, 2 and 3 they would be more able to access the A-Level courses.

    It?s not hard to teach notation in a fun way. I taught note lengths in one lesson to Year 5 and they loved it and can still remember it six months on. I believe that the NC should say that children should learn traditional western notation as it is essential in order to access music courses at a higher level.

    (Although, I did go to a school where I was taught Latin, so I can imagine that my views will be immediately dismissed!).
  19. Sorry guys. I've got sucked in to a couple of arguments today - I should get more sleep! I just see red when people keep patronising primary music education, or stating as if a fact that it doesn't exist. And the same for secondary education in the less privileged areas.

    And I'm fed up of people having a go at Howard Goodall when he has the .... the .... courage I suppose, to come on here publicly and stand up, very well I think, for what he believes. But that's on anotheer thread. Sorry.

    Florian has made no secret of the fact that he worked in a very privileged school - and done so with good grace and always acknowledged that he couldn't do what he did with the budget, resources and raw material that others have. (I hope that doesn't offend him - that's the way he comes across...) Why can't others?
  20. I should say that I don't of course believe that all secondary music education is colouring in and wordsearches (although I do know that it happens) - but wanted to turn the tables on those who rubbish what others do. To see how they reacted to being patronised and dismissed.

    I know, I know, it's "he hit me first, miss!". Sorry.

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