Monday, 6 April 2015

"I'm just not a musical person"

Are you a "musical person"
Chances are that if you follow this blog, you are.
Actually, I'd suggest that if you walk upright, have an opposable thumb and know how to make fire then you are.
But don't be sad 'cause two out of three aint bad

What's started this blog off is a comment from a colleague yesterday that really got me thinking.
 He teaches a Hard Materials class (that's woodwork in old currency) and we were discussing the engagement and attitude of our students.

His comment, (and I don't want to put words in his mouth because there's a very good chance he'll be reading this)  was along the lines of:

"It's different for you because some people are musical and some aren't" 

And after a lot of careful thought on that I'm calling Bullshit.

On the contrary, every student that enters my room for the first time already has a strong emotional and cognitive tie to music in a way they quite frankly don't have to woodwork. 

They have their favourite songs, singers and genres for a start. 
Not many have their favourite carver or cabinet maker.

So, with this in mind, I only have myself to blame if I don't see full engagement in my classes.
At least for the first session or two!

I'll admit I have trouble with engagement later when the physical demands of playing music kick in with some students.

This term I've been using Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" as my introductory ukulele song. The chords could not be simpler: Am F and C. All one and two finger chords.
Most kids will pick this up within 10 min, which includes the time to play the song. 
The problem is always the next step, which is the G chord. 

There's no cheat code for the G chord. I show them the best techniques for moving their fingers to the right strings and frets but from there on in it's self discipline. 
Now most kids at this point are hooked. They've already played along with Sam Smith, easily, so teaching one more chord is easy. They want to learn.

But there are always a few that want to give up at this point because:

1). Their fingers are sore, 
2).  the song sucks, 
3).  music is not their thing.

And to be honest, I'll accept the first two excuses over the last one because:

1).  Fingers get sore playing stringed instruments.  It gets easier as they harden up.
2).  I can't please all the people all the time. If you hate the song, fair enough. 
       Just don't spoil it for everyone else.
3).   That excuse doesn't hold any weight in any other area of the curriculum.

For lots of kids, Physical Education is not their thing but they don't get to sit it out because it might leave them a bit puffed and sore.
If numeracy or literacy are "not their thing" those kids can expect a barrage of numeracy and literacy interventions. 

So why make music an exception?
You know you like it.

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