In which I worry about differentiation in music education

I’ve seen a number of posts on twitter recently, and read some blog posts too, that argue that differentiation is a bad thing. I’ve been doing some head-scratching about this, as I’ve always maintained, and say to PGCE students, that every KS3 music class is mixed-ability (a term I don’t like, but that’s another story!). If this is the case, how do we then deal with the range of pupils that present themselves each time a KS3 music lesson is taught?

One of the main issues – for me, and I want to be clear these are personal thoughts – is that there seem to be a number of issues with what we (whoever ‘we’ are, I keep saying that at the moment!) actually meanby differentiation. Let me try and explain. (What follows applies to KS3 music, by the way, I appreciate other subjects and phases will be different.) When we plan for teaching and learning we do so normally at three levels, long-term, medium-term, and short-term. What this means is that long-term planning considers where the learners in this school, with these teachers, will be at the end of KS3. Then medium-term planning translates this into schemes of work and programmes of study, and short-term planning will be individual lesson plans.

So what is differentiation? Let’s take this definition from Munro (2012) as being typical:

Differentiating instruction involves responding constructively to what students know. It means providing multiple learning pathways so that students can have access to the most appropriate learning opportunities commensurate with their capacity to learn. It involves matching students’ approach to learning with the most appropriate pedagogy, curriculum goals and opportunities for displaying knowledge gained …

From this I would want to add three words to the first sentence: “..responding constructively to what students know” and can do. This for me is where differentiation comes in. Our mainland European music educator chums talk a lot about ‘competences’ in music education. This works for me, what the pupils are competent at doing is a good place to start from. This brings us back to planning. I think we see differentiation operating principally in the lesson planning stage. This is because it is here that it finds its outworking in the way we deal this individual group of children and young people in the classroom. And each class will be different, in music.

Let us drill down, or as Ofsted now say, take a deep dive, into what is going on. Some arguments against differentiation argue that you should ‘teach to the top’, and that this will bring the others up to this level. Let’s think about that in KS3. I’m sure many colleagues will have had the experience of teaching a KS3 class where a child has, say Grade V on an instrument. So, do we teach to this child, and assume everyone else will catch up? I don’t think that will go down well! Others recommend ‘teaching to the middle’, so do we do this, and ignore the Gd V child, and risk them being bored in practical work, as their competences will be of a different level? These are questions music teachers have to grapple with every day.

I think that this has become a contested area because so many education social-media pundits never seem to even get as far as thinking about music. I remember well an educator who had been to a CPD event with an orchestra, came back amazed to tell me that not everyone in the orchestra plays the same thing at the same time (well, derr!) and that the violas were playing something different to the flutes (derr, again!). This was revelatory for them in thinking about how different activities contributed to a unified whole. This is so obvious in music that we don’t even bother to worry about it. Of course the drummer plays something different to the lead guitarist, and the bass guitar, and the keyboard, and…and…and.

The upshot of all of this is that differentiation is built into our musical DNA, so of course we ‘get it’, and we enact it.

The problem with differentiation is that it isn’t a conceptual problem for KS3 music, but that others, from other areas, have made it so – now where have we heard that before 😉 ?

Where it does become an issue is doing something about it for every KS3 class, every lesson, of every day. But that is why music teachers are so good at their jobs, because they can do this.

REFS

Munro, J., (2012) Effective strategies for implementing differentiated instruction. [online] Available at: http://research.acer.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1144&context=research_conference (Accessed June 2019)

 

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England – Curriculum Planning

There is to be a curriculum planning group for music in England, established by the minister, Nick Gibb. I’ve been asked to share some thoughts on this via the Primary Music Magazine, and so these are to be found here: Primary Music Magazine link

Which will, I hope, go some way towards explaining why I haven’t written a blog post recently, sorry!

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What is KS3 classroom music education for?

I’ve been thinking again recently about what the point of classroom music is. This thinking has been caused not only by the usual reasons of academic inquiry, fuelled by John Finney’s thoughtful comments here, but because I have been sniffing the entrails, and I think that classroom music teaching and learning will become a hot issue in the coming months. So, here are some thoughts…

I think one of the first things I want to observe is that until you’ve actually taught classroom music at KS3, day-in-day-out, over a reasonably long period of time, your ideas will not be based on a sound ontological footing. Yes, we should of course listen to all opinions, absolutely, but anyone can dream up ‘castles in the sky’ when they haven’t had to ‘walk the talk’. Classroom music is not graded music exams writ large, nor is it WCET in the really long term. It is based on the National Curriculum, and forms a linearity between KS2 and KS4 (KS2 music is a whole other issue, I am temporarily ignoring! . What the purpose of GCSE music is involves a whole other set of worries, too!)

Then, what do I think KS3 music isn’t:

Musical appreciation We had musical appreciation back in the 50s and 60s, let’s just say it didn’t end well, and if you want to bring it back, I suggest you take a long, hard look at Enquiry 1 (1968)! This is NOT to say kids should never listen to music, but only listening to music by dead white chaps is not the sole reason for the subject existing

Theory. I have no bones about reading and writing music, I’ve written about it before here, but I don’t think it’s the starting point for musical learning. Paul Harris has written eloquently about simultaneous learningand I think that’s probably how knowledge of staff notation is best acquired.

A free-for-all. Sometimes John Paynter gets a bad rap, but I don’t think simply handing out the instruments and saying “make up a soundscape about the sea” is a good thing either. Neither is untrammelled self-expression necessarily good. I think music has a long history of styles and conventions, and some of these are best learned.

Having said all that, what I do think is that we need to revisit classroom music at KS3 before someone else revisits it for us, especially if that someone else has a cunning money-making wheeze attached to what they think schools want (which I’ve long argued is not the same as what schools need!).  We also know how some people with a firm ideology have had the ear of those in power, and we need to be wary of them too.

All of which is to say that I think we need to take a long hard look at KS3 music from within, and then decide what we think it is for. And in my view of this, one of the things may well be that it will look different for different schools, teachers, locales, and kids. Music is so wrapped up with youth identity and cultural coding that a one-size-fits-all probably wont!

So why is all this about assessment? Or isn’t it? Well, I’ve also said often enough that simple things are simple to assess. Whether a kid can hit A-B-C on a glock is easy to assess. Whether said kid can play A-B-C musically is much harder to deal with. In the sense that I think that all assessment starts with curriculum, then it is to curriculum that we should look to as the starting point.

Whoever it was said “the only certainty is doubt” then that’s my position, but maybe I’ll have changed my mind by next week. But how can I be sure I’ve changed my mind? 🙂

Ref:

Schools Council (1968). Enquiry 1: Young School Leavers. London, HMSO. (NB Now out of print, and I can’t find a web version, sorry!)

 

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Mrs Curwen’s surprise on Twitter!

The most retweeted and most ‘liked’ tweet I have ever made was a recent one, wherein I said this:

Sometimes I read things on edutwitter from someone who thinks they have discovered something amazing, which often sounds profoundy, thinky, or researchy, and I sigh and reflect on how music educators have known said thing for years. In evidence I give you Mrs Curwen, 1886:

  1. Teach the easy before the difficult.

  2. Teach the thing before the sign.

  3. Teach one fact at a time, and the commonest fact first.

  4. Leave out all exceptions and anomalies until the general rule is understood.

  5. In training the mind, teach the concrete before the abstract.

  6. In developing physical Skill, teach the elemental before the compound, and do one thing at a time.

  7. Proceed from the known to the related unknown.

  8. Let each lesson, as far as possible, rise out of that which goes before, and lead up to that which follows.

  9. Call in the understanding to help the skill at every step.

  10. Let the first impression be a correct one; leave no room for misunderstanding.

  11. Never tell a pupil anything that you can help him to discover for himself.

  12. Let the pupil, as soon as possible, derive some pleasure from his knowledge. Interest can only kept up by a sense of growth in independent power.

(Curwen, 1886)

A number of people commented on which ones they liked the most, and also which they didn’t! The controversial one in the list was number 11. This is unsurprising, as there has been for a while a meme on education social media that discovery learning, project based learning, guided discovery and their cognates are ‘bad’. This ranges from the “just bloody tell them” approach, to a general dissing of pupil-centred learning. So to be expected to be controversial, then. But a number of readers also pointed out that what Mrs C actually says is “Never tell a pupil anything you can help him to discover for himself” which places the emphasis away from the “never” if the teacher can help the learner (C19 gender specificity aside) discover it themselves. For a number of respondents this was their favourite one of the dozen anyway!

What is interesting  (at least I found it interesting!) was that this was picked up, liked, and retweeted many times far beyond the music education community, by people in all sorts of other subjects. This got me thinking about why this would be the case. I can think of a number of reasons, but I am going to concentrate (selfishly, I know but it’s my blog!) on two:

  1. We don’t have much space for teaching and learning history of education on current ITE courses
  2. Music education has a long and proud tradition of pedagogy which is often neglected by practitioners from within, let alone without.

I think number 1 here is interesting for a number of reasons. I don’t think it’s the fault of teachers that they don’t know very much about the history of education. I think this has been a deliberate act by politicians to remove this from ITE courses. And in-service CPD is so precious that it cannot be squeezed in as something which is simply of interest. History of education is only one aspect of what is missing, all sorts of things which may count as being ‘theory’ have been squeezed out, or removed:

…the Government has decided to resolve the tension between theory and practice by simply cutting out theory altogether, to leave only practice. (Northcott, 2011, p.9)

This seems a little sad to me. I am not for one moment casting aspersions on ITE, or ITT, but this removal of ‘knowledge’ from teacher preparation courses seems at odds with the “knowledge-rich” curriculum that some aspects of the Government and teaching profession prefer?

Turning to the second aspect, that of music eduaction and pedagogy, we know that there have been key texts on this for many centuries. Michael Mark’s pivotal “Music Education – Source Readings from Ancient Greece to Today” (1982) kicks off, as the title suggests, with Plato, and then takes us through a gamut of texts on this topic. (I don’t know if he includes Mrs Curwen, as with so many of my books I’ve lent my copy to someone!) But music education practitioners in England, at least, are trained according to precepts outlines above. This means that there is precious little time on a PGCE to develop thinking about teaching and learning in contemporary music education, without digging around in history. And bearing in mind that the Swanwick-Tillman spiral(Swanwick & Tillman, 1986)and ‘Sound and Silence’ (Paynter & Aston, 1970)are music history (meaning being published before the teachers were born) then anything much before then is seriously unlikely to get a look-in!

But even so, we music educators can have a hard time agreeing with each other, after all, as Bernarr Rainbow observed over 20 years ago:

Nor even among those who have defended music’s place in the curriculum has there been a greater measure of agreement on how it should be taught. Children have had their heads stuffed with facts – sometimes expressed in a dead language – before being permitted to utter a note. Some pupils have been limited to rote-singing; others have been obliged to sing everything at  sight – from manual signs, from the Gamut, from numerals, from sol-fa, from fixed or movable do, from sundry patent notations, or from the staff. …Certain of these disagreements – and others at least as contentious – survive in our own day. Contrary opinions are still expressed, and it is far from unknown for an earnest teacher to spend energy devising and trying out experimental methods which have already been tested long ago, and failed. (Rainbow, 1995, p. 43)

So why do I think Mrs Curwen’s ideas stirred up so much interest and agreement? I think it is because they are universal in nature, and apart from the C19 gender-specificity, offer elegantly phrased maxims that serve us well in our contemporary pedagogic quest.

Of course, as with all things, we are not the first to re-discover Mrs Curwen, and in Music Education can I point interested readers to Keith Swanwick’s “Music, Mind and Education” (Swanwick, 1988)where he discusses Mrs C’s maxims, and compares and contrasts them with those of Murray Schafer. This chapter is in turn commented on by Jonathan Savage, in his book “The Guided Reader to Teaching and Learning Music” (Savage, 2013).

But I also think it is often the case that the wealth of knowledge, experience, and understanding that we have as music educators can go unrecognised by our colleagues in other subject areas, who, through no fault of their own, are unaware of the long history that music education has in pedagogic, psychological, and practical research, and, let’s be frank, wisdom, that can inform other areas of teaching just as well as our own.

But it is also nice to see that Mrs Curwen is still relevant for the 21stCentury!

 

 

References

Curwen, A. J. (1886). The Teacher’s Guide to Mrs. Curwen’s Pianoforte method (the child pianist). Being a practical course in the elements of music. London: Curwen’s Edition.

Northcott, D. (2011) What do teachers want from teacher education? IN In defence of teacher education, SCETT, 2011

Paynter, J., & Aston, P. (1970). Sound and Silence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rainbow, B. (1995). The Challenge of History. Philosophy of Music Education Review, 3(1), 43-51.

Savage, J. (2013). The guided reader to teaching and learning music. London: Routledge.

Swanwick, K. (1988). Music, Mind, and Education: London: Routledge.

Swanwick, K., & Tillman, J. (1986). The sequence of musical development: a study of children’s compositions. British Journal of Music Education, 3(3), 305-309.

 

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Why Music Educators Really Understand Skills – BJME editorial

I have been a bit busy and haven’t had time for a blog entry for a while. However, please have a read of my latest editorial for British Journal of Music Education entitled “Why Music Educators Really Understand Skills” available at https://bit.ly/2J4L2EF (Hopefully it’s open access!) which provides my current thinking on this matter.

I wonder if this is another peculiarly English phenomenon?

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The Chinese Water Torture of Disinformation

Today I read this:

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector of schools for England, said she supported the shift back towards traditional academic subjects at GCSE, as these offered the best chance of progress to higher-level study. … But she added Ofsted expected a broad education, including the arts, to be available in the early part of secondary school, arguing that schools should “embrace creative subjects” through extra activities such as plays, art clubs and orchestras. (Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42862996)

At first, like many others on twitter, I was cross. Only Extra-Curricula? Huh!

But then I stopped and reflected on what I have come increasingly to think of as the Chinese Water Torture of Disinformation. This involves the steady drip-drip-drip of a constant but oh-so-gentle stream of things which in themselves are quite innocuous, after all who could be really affected by a gentle dripping? But which cumulatively over time lead to a significant change, either in the individual being tortured, or, in the case of music education, in the systemic but, again, oh-so-gentle effects of the dripping on the subject and its associated activity.

Am I being overly melodramatic? Probably. Well, maybe! But think what we have had dripped on us recently. In no particular order, here is a stream of consciousness list:

  • The telescoping of KS3 to 2 years, meaning we have lost a third of the time
  • The effects of the EBacc on GCSE importance perceptions
  • The internal market in school subjects created by accountability measures, placing music at the bottom
  • The effects of carousel type arrangements reducing already meagre time
  • The changes in GCSE syllabi prioritising certain forms of knowledge
  • The whole knowledge-skills thing in some quarters devaluing musical knowledge and prioritising knowledge about music (what Beethoven had for breakfast type stuff)
  • The unreasonable demands of some whole-school assessment systems
  • A focus away from musical learning and towards written learning in some schools (eg writing about singing, not doing singing)
  • The increase in after-school time for core subject top-up sessions, thus cutting music extra-curricula provision
  • The lost lunch times, preventing extra-curric music happening then
  • The mindsets that we seem to have start exam teaching in Y7, when this may not be appropriate for music (they need to learn and do first).
  • Whole-school CPD which largely ignores, or is irrelevant to music

And many, many more, I’m sure.

And now we are told that music is ‘nice’ as a sort of extra-curricular cultural capital input. Drip-drip-drip.

And whilst I will be accused of being far too Machiavellian, let me also invoke Godwin’s law, wherein any internet conversation will turn to Nazism at some point. Or reductio ad Hitlerum as Wikipedia nicely calls it! Well, Joseph Goebbels knew a thing or two about propaganda and messaging, and he said:

“It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. They are mere words, and words can be moulded until they clothe ideas and disguise.”

And this, for me, is what the Chinese water torture of disinformation is doing. Words are being twisted, but they are also being used against us. After all, what reasonable person could believe that the core school subjects are not important? Where the cunning manoeuvre comes is in saying that if you don’t agree with this, you are against it.

“What, so you are in favour in lowering standards then, you blobby blobs?”

“No, I merely think that music and the arts are important too.”

“Yes of course, but we are in favour of raising standards, and so you want to dilute this?”

“No, I merely think that music and the arts are important too.”

“So you are in favour of Britain not competing on the global stage because our youngsters will lack the knowledge needed?”

“No, I merely etc…”

Very, very clever.

And finally, as my thoughts are of music, another Goebbels gem:

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”

And for the press, today add social media, and the effects of external groupthink (I haven’t mentioned Orwell!)

The great keyboard is being played, but we want the music changing.

Drip-drip-drip…

 

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In which I get ratty about progress and progression in music education – yet again!

I’ve been thinking a lot again about these three words recently:

Progress
Progression
Continuation

This has been particularly the case as I’ve been looking into Arts Council England data on WCET (Whole Class Ensemble Tuition), where the notion of continuation is added to the mix. In a report that’s currently just having the finishing touches put to it for Music Mark, I’ve thought about progress and progression like this:

  • Progress          – to make progress, to get better at something, to have greater depth of understanding or breadth of experience
  • Progression     – to go from WCET to a school band (etc.), then to a band of a higher standing, such as an area band, then a music centre band, or, in some schools, to move through more advanced ensembles within the school, and so on. In other words to make progress as in the definition above, and then avail oneself of progression routes available via the local hub, school, MAT, or whatever.

This then leaves continuation, which, in terms of WCET, is defined by the ACE data return for music hub leaders thus:

For the purpose of reporting continuation outcomes, the definition of continuation is when a pupil chooses to continue their musical education beyond WCET, regardless of the instrument/s learned (for example the child might have had WCET on the recorder, but decide to continue their musical education on the flute).

This is problematic itself, but for the moment I’m going to leave that alone, and just think about the words. What I wish to suggest is that in music education there is a danger that the three are used interchangeably, and I wish to suggest that that just isn’t the case.

Progress, as I see it, is a facet of learning. It can apply to classroom music, as well as to instrumental music learning. It is not a  uniquely defined construct, pupils can get better at, say, performing, without getting equally better at composing. They can better at understanding key aspects of music, say, major scale construction, but not improve their listening. Progress can be assessed, with difficulty, certainly in some cases, but progress here I am taking as attainment over time. Rapid progress is done, well, rapidly, whilst slow progress…you get the picture!

Progression in daily usage I think can mean two things – the way I defined it above, when it really means progression routes, but these can equally be called progression pathways or progression trajectories, whatever, they are about moving on. But – and this is a big but – it can also mean progress (as in my definition above) taking place over time. “Oh yes, young Ludwig’s progression in his ophicleide lessons this term has been remarkable! Indeed, Ludwig may soon be eligible for the county rare instruments ensemble” Which then is a progression route, thus nicely conflating the two!

Why am I banging on about this? Because in music education we have a grave tendency to sometimes inadvertently ‘otherise’ bits of music education we are not closely involved with. So for instrumental music the two meanings can rub along nicely besides each other, whereas for classroom music progression has a very specific and undoubtedly measurement based focus. SLT want to know about it. Assessment schedules are predicated on proving it. This means we need to think very carefully when we use the word about how the listener hears, and ‘en-baggages’ what we are saying, by adding their own understanding.

To which we need to add continuation. What does it mean to start on one instrument and continue on another? How long a gap is needed for continuation to simply not be counted? How about when something lies dormant in an individual, and they only get the chance later to do something about it? What progress has been made in this case?

Now, I’m not saying I’m correct in my definitions, but I am at least trying to disentangle various meanings of the words, and not simply assume that only ‘my way’ exists.

I’d like to close by saying that these aren’t the mad ravings of an academic (well, actually they are, sorry!) but that when we have ‘progression’ brought to the fore in music education, as we do currently, this academic gets really hacked off when people don’t even do the decent undergrad essay thing and define their terms at the outset!

Meantime I shall sit in my Ivory Tower (there’s a lot of those in Birmingham!) and ponder more on continuation.

Until then, hopefully some progress has been made in thinking about these things, and continuation of more blog-reading will follow at a later date!

Pip-pip!

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Progress and Intervals

I’ve been thinking a lot about progress again recently. Despite the best intentions of ‘assessment without levels’, progress is still firmly one of the things being looked at.

I was thinking about progress whilst having a coffee in the sitting room, where we have a piano, and idly playing five-finger exercises in my mind (where I am much better at them). It then occurred to me that one of the problems that schools have with progress is that they treat it like progress occurs in semitones. Bear with me…

Keyboard image

On the piano, the distance from C to C# is a semitone, the distance from E to F is a semitone, and the distance from Abb to Ab is a semitone. We all know and understand this. Likewise we can construct intervals of great complexity, like a diminished 32nd, or something, and work out a couple of examples, using real notes. This is because all the semitones have the same interval, the same distance between them.

Now I know this is no great shock horror, and I also know that it only works in equal temperament, and I know too that it is a western classical construct, although guitar frets are built on the same idea. But in assessment, especially in progression, what we have often is mistaking progression for semitones. Let me explain.

Simple example is back in the days of National Curriculum levels. We assumed that going from a 4c to a 4b was ‘one sub-level of progress’, and was the same as going from 6b to 6a. But was it? Were our assessments so finely-calibrated that we could be certain of that?

Today, without levels, I worry that flightpaths are forcing the same problems on us. Some kids might make a minor 3rd of progress, some might make a perfect 4th, and some might only make a perfect unison, ie appear to make no progress, but that unison is now in tune, so maybe they have got better!

We also have the issue that only rising intervals have been permitted, but that’s the subject of another post!

I think I need to think more about this, and what the implications are, but with talk of grade boundaries I am concerned that we are assuming equal temperament where it doesn’t exist, and assuming one ‘semitone’ of progress is equal to all other semitones of progress, when maybe it isn’t!

 

 

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The place of Notation in Music Education

This topic has been bothering me for a while, and will doubtless continue so to do. My latest thoughts are in the British Journal of Music Education, which CUP have kindly made available here.

Maybe you are one of our PGCE graduates, and remember the notation argument from your year? Or maybe you didn’t have it in your pre-service preparation?

I know there has been some activity in the press on this topic recently, much of which I feel is wrong-headed, and in the limited space afforded by an editorial, I try and explain why! anyway, see what you think.

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In which I fall over in Lisbon, and reflect again on the knowledge/skills debate

Sometimes there are things which happen which make you really think about things. One of those happened to me at the weekend. I was in Lisbon to address the Associação portuguesa de educação musical conference there. What happened was that I fell over in the street. It was morning, I was stone cold sober, and I tripped over an uneven pavement. I think that this is in part because, as a varifocal wearer, the ground is constantly out of focus for me, so I have to sort of guess what’s going on down there! Now, apart from the fact that this hurt a lot, and damaged my lip as I hit the ground, reflection occurred afterwards, as Schön would have said, ‘reflection-on-action’. If the ground is constantly out of focus, why not do something about it? Maybe not wear varifocals when walking? So I’m trying that!

But apart from playing for sympathy, this also got me thinking, suppose for a lot of people the ‘ground’ is always out of focus? In music education the notion of a ground – as in, (tenuously, admittedly) the psychology notion of figure-ground – is hard to define. But there has been a lot of talk again of late about the place of knowledge and skills. I have recently listened to a radio programme in which one commentator observes that some teachers don’t think “knowledge” is important, and so said misguided teachers only teach skills. Now, we’ve been here before! This argument is hard to apply in music education. As in so many other things we are out in the lead of other subject areas. The ‘ground’ here, which is so out of focus to the commentator I listened to, is that for music education knowledge and skills go hand in hand. And philosophers will tell you that knowledge includes knowing “how to” anyway, so skills themselves are a form of knowledge after all.

As I said, I was in Lisbon, and so, thick lip, but cleaned up somewhat, I addressed the Portuguese music educators concerning curriculum and assessment. Interestingly, at the point of me talking about knowledge and skills, they smiled and nodded sagely. One of them then said “yes, we had politicians here who thought that, but us educators told them they were being silly, and that of course kids needed both!” “Good”, I said. But this made me think. Why is the ground so unclear in England that we allow people to say things about knowledge and skills that we music educators know to be “silly”? After all, how can you develop skills in, say, guitar playing, and not know the names of chords and their relations? What is it that has created the situation that has allowed “silly” ideas like this to flourish?

One of the reasons, I think, is that for some of the people saying these things, music is so far from their own ground that they never give it a thought. A related reason is the stratified and rarefied view that these people have such that their own subjects don’t have anything like musical skills, and for them, in their subject areas, skills are somewhat nebulous. After all, the skill to read a map is nothing like the skill required to achieve a crescendo on a xylophone. Skills in music require mental and physical interaction, this is not the case in some areas of the curriculum, and it is those areas which have provided the people who have come to prominence peddling this nonsense. But why didn’t we, en masse, like the Portuguese educators did, dismiss this daftness?

Well, I think the answer is political. It suits the zeitgeist for some to say “this is broken”, and a small group of naysayers become empowered beyond that which their limited vision (like mine!) should really allow. And it is not just in knowledge/skills that we see this lack of vision. In England at the moment we are hearing of music disappearing from school curricula. This is so schools can concentrate on subjects which neoliberalism values. And that ain’t the arts! But again, there is a whole host of otherwise sensible people whose varifocals won’t let them see the ground they have been churning up. But that sad saga is for another day!

Which brings me back to falling over! This requires mental and physical interaction in order to not fall over, and so just as I will be more careful with the ground in future, we can but hope that some of those misguided commentators can also look for a ground which includes music education, rather than tacitly assume all subjects are like theirs. And if they don’t “get” music, I’m sure our PE colleagues can oblige with a few examples!

 

 

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