Some thoughts from a music teacher
"Music was always a part of our family home when I was growing up. I always thought I would work with something completely different, but music has such a huge personal appeal, I feel like I need to be involved with it."
Why is it important for children to learn to play instruments?
As humans we are engineered to express ourselves creatively, and music is a universal method of expression. Most people consume music, in some form or other, today. It is an important ingredient in our day-to-day lives, and it’s therefore essential that music is part of the school curriculum.
Playing along with others provides a unique way for pupils to learn to be receptive. At the very moment they play a note or start singing, someone else has to play too, and together they have to sound good and cohesive. Music also provides other life lessons such as certain "soft values" i.e. feelings, personal expression, and being vulnerable. In music class this is safeguarded and even promoted as part of a child’s education. Musical performers often feel like they are exposing themselves, that their body and voice are an extension of themselves, and for some, it can be a bit sensitive or embarrassing. But we need to show children that these softer values are OK, that they should be embraced and valued. Children need practice at expressing themselves, they need to see others do it, and they need to do it together, through song, music, dance and emotions.
In your experience, how are your students affected when they play music? What happens?
Almost all children have idols and role models in music, which is why the vast majority of pupils are excited to start playing an instrument. And when you prepare things so that they can succeed, it tends to build confidence and awaken a desire to continue.
Sometimes, of course, I have to remind pupils not to compare themselves with a professional music production, and point out that their own initial efforts are more than good enough. I usually ask them to think about the joy and cheer their musical expression evokes in others, and what a delight it is to make music together! I also get them to understand that we are not seeking perfection here and now, after all this is rarely as good as we think it will be. You often hear that the best music is when you manage to touch somebody with it. That’s the goal of an artist.
But ask yourself, what would you be most affected by, the flawless performer acting on stage or a child performing their song for the first time at a school graduation ceremony?