Listening

In addition to experiencing musical performances, an important part of training is to listen.

When I was studying piano, we still had to go and buy the record or cassette tape to listen to another artist’s interpretation of a work.  These days, YouTube is at our fingertips.

This work is another arrangement of a piece in the AMEB 4th Grade Piano for Leisure syllabus.  Not only can students hear the piano version, but they should research the actual J.S. Bach original, written for choir, trumpet, oboes, violins, viola and basso continuo.  The piece is so popular that it has also been scored for organ, guitar or piano duet.  Students should listen to learn to appreciate many different interpretations and possibilities.

YouTube is an incredible resource, and can encourage practice time away from the instrument.  It is always helpful to see another interpretation or version of one’s piece.  The idea is not to perfectly reproduce another’s interpretation, but to use it as inspiration.  This can also encourage critical thinking – what makes one version better or more effective than another?  What tics does this performer have that might detract from a performance?  How does this performer phrase or shape the music?  How different does this piece sound on another instrument?

It is important to see YouTube as a provider of more than amateur videos or cheeky cartoons.  For the music student, it is also an invaluable (and free) resource for comparative study and inspiration in interpretation.  I encourage all students to use this resource and learn to listen!

Experiencing

There are a myriad of opportunities to experience music in other ways than a private or small group lesson.

Most schools have visiting performers who come round to share an experience or show.  Many councils have holiday programs; professional orchestras (and even community orchestras) tend to have children’s programmes.  These days most suburbs seem to have a holiday “Rock School”.

There is much to be gained (as well as generating more enthusiasm for your child’s instrument, and for music in general) by providing extra-curricular opportunities.  The occasional trip to a ballet, orchestra concert or rock concert will inspire, and investing in some sort of holiday programme will also round out your child’s musical experiences.

There are many options available, and at Stellar we are also offering various courses to excite and enthuse: see http://www.stellarmusicschool.com.au/holiday-workshops

There are many studies showing that music education has a flow-on effect in other areas of learning, with a Wikipedia article on music lessons saying that “a recent Rockefeller Foundation Study found that music majors have the highest rate of admittance to medical schools, followed by biochemistry and the humanities.”

I’m practising what I preach and will be off to Hobart at the end of next week to take part in some concerts and workshops at the Festival of Voices (http://www.festivalofvoices.com/).  I particularly need to stay fresh and learn more if I am to inspire the next generation and be the best educator I can.

Above all, keep having fun!  Enjoy making music with siblings or friends.