If we were to drop in on a music lesson at a typical junior school in the UK today, what could we expect to find? Would the lesson be inspiring, creative and in-tune with the young children of this digital generation?
Or, would we still see our children sitting in a big circle, patiently waiting a turn, while others tap out the rhythm of their names.
I recently visited a school in Essex. There was a music lesson in progress and the children were about to sing along to a CD. The lyrics were up on the smart board, the preliminaries had been dispensed with: “sit up straight, stop fidgeting.” And then the singing began: I felt as if I was at a funeral. It wasn’t out of time, it wasn’t out of tune. And it wasn’t music. It was completely flat and soulless. I have to admit, it took the shine off the rest of my day.
I know there are some fantastic, dedicated, teachers, creating magic in schools today. But sadly, many music lessons in junior schools seem to be stuck in a bit of a time warp. They seem to lack the true spirit of what music is really about-the fun and joy of making music.
I regularly ask my own children, “how was it at school today?” To which they mumble an automatically generated response “boring!” Obviously, when you investigate these claims in a little more depth, you discover that certain elements of the day were significantly better than others.
But there is a serious point to be made here: In my view, it is the teachers job to strive to make every lesson (not just music, all subjects) interesting with a generous dollop of fun thrown in for good measure. But, if we as teachers can’t make our music sessions fun and engaging, what hope does the poor maths teacher have?