Happy New Year Everyone!
Well to start us off on the proper footing we have two news stories that are certain to spark the debate over the "best" music to use for "teaching" music.
In the corner to our left we have no lesser a fellow than famed cellist Julian Lloyd Webber. According to an article in the Guardian, Webber is preparing to take on the UK's "Music Manifesto" crowd regarding how music should be taught in the schools as the UK works to restore music education programs. A major meeting and debate are set for later this month. Should be interesting stuff. Out with classroom rap, in with Mozart
In the other corner we have the Berklee College of Music and their plans to expand the "City Music Program" to several communities using an online network. (Students Learn Music From Gnarls Barkley, Not Bach) and (New Score for City Musicians) The program uses contemporary music as the pathway to engage inner city youth with music.
What I find interesting in these two very different approaches is there is little recognition of the value of the other. Popular music as a way of teaching music in our schools is not a new idea. Nor can we say that studying the great works off the ages is no longer a relevant way to educate young people in music.
The fallacy here is that there is no wrong answer. It is the diversity of music that makes it such a powerful force in our world. Not everyone likes or responds to the same kind of music. So it is no surprise to see diverse approaches in the styles used to teach music.
But there is a potential danger. Where the danger may be is the perception these programs will somehow “save” music education. They won’t. Don’t’ get me wrong… I think City Music does a great job and will be a wonderful program that will impact lots of young people. But, their stated purpose is to create more musicians. This is not why we teach music in our schools. We teach music to create better PEOPLE. Programs like City Music cannot and should not be viewed as a way to replace the process in which music education is provided to our children. This is done in our schools. Programs like City Music can be a great supplement to existing programs and also serve as a great model to educate uniformed administrators about the tremendous educational benefits of music and then get them to embrace their responsibility to provide these benefits to every child.
That would be a wonderful contribution to the field.

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