Today, April 10th, I read an article by Charlotte C Gill published in this website: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/27/music-lessons-children-white-wealthy
I'm not only scared to read it, but I'm amazed to note - being myself a Brazilian professional composer, pianist, writer and theoretician – that UK seems to be in a bad historical moment concerning the music education and to note how the newspapers and websites are contributing to this in the worst way possible.
I'd like to mention that being a Brazilian myself, I'm speaking from a much terrible “3rd world country”. The Brazilian culture has been long destroyed by the MARKET and the MEDIA CULTURE. I had no access to any musical study in school, I had to study alone almost all my life, and the “art teaching” in the universities is made by people who owns high degrees and not real acknowledgment very often.
So, from this hideous Country I'm speaking from right now! - Brazil – in an English language which I had to learn by myself too, since no given classes were teaching more than naming the colors, animals and days of the week. So I'm sorry in advance for any mistakes in my writing.
Here I want to answer what was written by Charlotte C Gill, starting from the first sentence:
“Music education is deteriorating around the country.”
No, music education is deteriorating around the world, and medias like Newspapers, TV, Radios because of their greed and will of power are, more and more, destroying all the world culture. This is not caused by requested programs of musical study where reading music is necessary.
“Despite the enormous contribution of the music industry to the UK economy”
Exactly! Here we have the first big problem of such speech, “music industry”. There is a long time since the music industry is NOT RELATED anymore to the ART OF MUSIC.
The music industry is related to the “MEDIA CULTURE” - where anyone using simple computer tools to build a very simple rhythm, can be called talented and become part of the 15 minutes of fame of the hideous system of ignorance we live in!
“with the creative industries overall estimated to generate £85bn net a year to GDP, the government remains placid about its importance in schools.”
And hopefully the UK government will not care for such comments if the idea by Charlotte C Gill is destroying the possibilities of STUDY THE ART OF MUSIC, removing the music theory classes.
“The Conservatives are too focused on the English baccalaureate, introduced to boost the number of students studying science and languages, to care.”
I must say I think it is not exactly bad. We need excellence in every professional, no matter if a musician or a doctor. That means you do not need wasting public money to make rappers or pop singers since they can do their own way without problems, while real artists (Yes! If you still have not noticed, the real art is not in the big market) need help in a world where only bad quality things are inside the big market.
“This is a great shame, as research has shown the huge benefits that music brings to children’s happiness and learning.“
Yes, music brings happiness and learning for the ones who enjoy music. And you must study it if you want to play an instrument or singing, and not just be trained like a stupid monkey because the media culture wants you to be a fool.
Study to have a knowledge is not a problem or something impossible to anyone, unless you have any mental illness, of course I'm afraid the media is already going to far in this direction... making the total ignorance a "standard".
“Interestingly, the government does care about psychological development in schools, and recently announced plans to trial mental health training for pupils, but it has not dawned on politicians that this, and more, can be achieved through the arts.”
And I'm supposed to believe the Media Culture, which only wants to sell their products, “through the(ir) arts” will be able to develop the mental health of UK people?
Art can be a solution. the music market not.
Bach and Mozart can be good, Anyway, Dietrich Buxtehude (have you heard about?) can be much more interesting for the “rock fans”. How about a rock'n'roll made before 1700? Something called “Prelude and Fugue in E minor BuxWV.143” where the rhythms are the same of the rock you know today. Then by a miracle a lot of “great creators” from Media Culture become nothing more than “fake prophets” of a “fake art”.
For such information is necessary study and reading music, of course.
“Music education has become harder and harder to access since 2010, when the baccalaureate was introduced, and since when the number of students taking music at GCSE and A-level has dropped by about 9% as teachers homed in on “academic” subjects.”
I'm not here to discuss the education system in UK, anyway I'm pretty sure there are several professional musicians working in universities and orchestras who are able to select what must be in the grades for the students.
And based in the article I just read, I'm pretty sure Charlotte C Gill is not the right person to decide what is the best option for the UK musical education. It seems no ones reads before posting in the Guardian anymore. (?)
“Increasingly, the onus has been on parents – and children – to take up private tuition, putting those who cannot afford such lessons at a disadvantage. Indeed, in 2014, the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain found that out of its members aged seven to 13, nearly 70% of those at state school received private education.”
There are free teachers on internet, specially if the “musical education” must stop in the pop culture.
Concerning the 30% without private musical education from the National Chidren's Orchestra, I'm pretty sure they studied and proved they wanted to be there. And it must be this way, unless you want to make the orchestra sounds like a Brazilian carnaval.
I don't think they enter there just to have enjoyment and fun for some minutes.
“In 2012-13, only 10% of music students at universities came from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.”
Here is something I really can't understand. Always there are people claiming about the “ethnic minorities”, it seems this is a world taboo and an easy way to put people inside places in a easier way,.
I never had problems with any kind of the so called “minority” in the world (and by the way, I do not think black people are really minority today) but I always noticed quite small part of the black people have any interest in, for example, classical music. And all the ones who had real interest became a professional when they wanted, with or without any government help. So what is the point? I respect every race and I think today they are able to do as much as I do.
By the way, here in Brazil, we have a “quotas system” for black and Indian people, the way it works is making a lot of bad professionals, because it is easier to enter the university if you claim to be a black person. No matter if you have good notes, you will have your degree at some point. I know about white people who called themselves "black" to enter the university without the need of study, so they have facilities to enter (and leave) the university. It is a great fiasco for the future.
Also, if you ask any Brazilian, they always say they want to be artists, but the situation is different, they are expecting to be part of the Media Culture because it means not much intellectual work, a lot of marketing and easy money to waste in anything they want, no matter what and why.
(I really hope UK tomorrow will not be the Brazil today)
“But that’s not the only problem. For a creative subject, music has always been taught in a far too academic way, meaning that theoretical knowledge is the main route to advancement.”
No creative person stop to be creative because is learning about music theory. This is a fallacy.
On the other hand, a creative person who study music theory and research about the HUGE repertoire available from more than 1000 years of writing music, will have in hands much more musical tools, knowledge (and even more the so called “TALENT”) than any “artist” from Media Culture.
It is interesting to mention that a “creative person” who refuse to learn something is only a “pretentious and artificial person”, a “nobody” which will give no real return to the society.
I never meet a creative person not interested in study about his/her art.
“While there are routes into musical careers for the untrained, and many pop, rap and grime artists have never studied music formally,”
Exactly, there are routes. If you want to play Elton John you don't need public money for your studies since everyone can do it without many problems just with some friends tips or watching some internet videos.
“there are also dozens of choirs and amateur collectives that put a huge focus on musical notation.”
Good, otherwise we will listen only “Silent Night” and other simple songs. I'm happy there are more people interested in the art of music.
“This is a cryptic, tricky language – rather like Latin – that can only be read by a small number of people, most of whom have benefited from private education. Children who do not have the resources, or ability, to comprehend it, are written off. Even when they are capable performers.”
You want me to believe in such words in the 21st Century? In UK? How about some internet research? Have you ever noticed how many “internet tutorials” are available to become a new Eric Clapton?
So how could you say someone have no resources today?
Now, how many “tutorials” are available to become a new Chopin?
Well, there is no tutorial for this. It is necessary more than just a “wish”. It is a hard study. Guess what? Music study. And sometimes even with study you will not become a new Chopin. Also sometimes you will become “yourself”, a new name to art – to the real art.
Everyone who wants to have fun with music can do it.
Everyone who wants to study (and must study, of course) needs more and more help – and hardly governments give such helps...
Anyway Charlotte C. Gill is dealing with art as a "own luxury" based in lack of information and laziness, while in real terms art is the only way for human sanity.
Actually (if you are blind) the ability of reading is not necessary for music. But if you are not blind, why you need to be so lazy? What is the problem in learning about a writing system which can be understood in few hours of study?
Music is not like “Latin” (which, by the way, is not so difficult as you want it to looks like). Music is a universal language which everyone can learn. But if you just want to “play your favorite songs” (meaning “playing the media culture products”) and you don't care for art – then no doubts, you don't need reading music and you will become nothing more than a sub-product of the market.
Now, I don't know your personal problems, but you must not rule the world based in your lack of information. Reading music is not difficult. You are lazy or just don't want it. Let's face the true!
“I know this because I struggled enormously to read notation as a child, meaning that my enthusiasm for music was not registered at primary level.
Still not registered…
“At secondary school, I was fortunate enough to have a teacher who picked up on my passion. One day he pulled me aside, and said “you like music, don’t you?”
Taste is the enemy of art. You can not enjoy something you just don't know.
How many composers you do know? How many works by them?
Learning music is a life long study. I can mention more than 100 composers who meet Franz Liszt in person. But who is Franz Liszt? This is the problem. You probably remember his music from "Tom and Jerry" only… (if you really remember...)
“before throwing me into two choirs, as well as singing and piano lessons. I learned Mozart, West Side Story and can now sing in Latin, German and Italian, eventually getting my grade 8.”
So you can read Latin now? The mystery is not a mystery anymore.
You can do it, the other students in UK can't?
“Still, I cannot sight read. This is something that means I cannot join the many choirs around the UK that name this as a requirement. “
Yes, you can, you just need to study to have a better sight reading, the answer is “start to read now”, you have not started to read with 4 or 5 years old as you do now, but if you are lazy, really there is no other way.
“The patterns and figures of music don’t easily unravel in my mind. I suspect that’s the case for many other children and adults; some get notation, others don’t. Neither is indicative of talent, but while we do not find lateral, inclusive ways to engage people – as well as loosening our ideas of what constitutes musical ability – we are losing masses of would-be performers.”
We are not losing Mozarts (genius). We are losing "Shakiras" & "Jay-Zs" (market sub-products). An we do not really need them to be paid by the governments because what they do is not related to any musical talent.
Everyone who wants, can do what they do – even a trained monkey can.
It is always about the laziness. A lot of people claims “I don't need read music because I can play Jazz”. Wow, that would be impressive for a lot of ignorant people, anyway anyone who study seriously the music theory will notice there are not many necessary steps to “improvise” your own jazz using scales (modes) and chords. In few moments you will notice your are “creative” for media culture, and after some little time, if you pay attention, you will notice you know nothing about this art and the media culture becomes the most artificial and insignificant thing to you.
“We may not all be able to tell the difference between the clefs, but we can play our favourite songs”
I'm afraid I will read in an English Newspaper at some point “We may not all be able to tell the difference between the heart and the brain, but we can make surgeries with a knife take care of people” and then the medicine will be changed in UK…
What is happening with people? Isn't it the best time to notice your brains are ill?
Too much TV, too much radio, too much media culture.
ARTS are the only possible ways to make the people sane, anyway, be aware that this is not exactly what the governments want from their people (this is what you can see happening in Brazil, the culture here is destroyed, everything is related to sex, carnaval, soccer and money)
The insistence on theoretical understanding is underpinned by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, which sets the most widely-used music exams. To meet its requirements, pupils must work through limited repertoires of old, mostly classical music, focusing most of their efforts on mastering musical literacy, above songwriting, composing, or even enjoyment.
If you want to become a musician you need to know what have been composed and what is composed right now. The main problem, and this is where the most part of musicians keep silent, is that the MEDIA CULTURE contribution to music is ZERO!
AND LIMITED REPERTOIRE IS WHAT THE MEDIA SHOWS TO THE PEOPLE.
We have a huge number of artists being ignored when you say “limited”.
Personally I believe hardly Charlotte C Gill can mention more than 10-15 names of classical music's composers without opening “google”, while i'm pretty sure Charlotte C Gill is able to mention hundreds of pop musicians who only are able to copy the most basic aesthetic elements of a song – WHICH IS A VERY OLD MUSICAL FORM.
So, the limited musical knowledge of Charlotte C Gill must be considered the real SHAME for UK government since it is a proof that the musical teaching is not working as it must be, thanks to the “good” teacher mentioned.
You must learn about numbers in order to study mathematics
You must learn about classical music in order to study the art of music.
"And so there is not only a wealthy elite presiding over music, but an academic one too, which gets to decide what sort of knowledge, and ability, make children competent – even though, like artists, musicians vary immensely in their tastes, tools and learning mechanisms."
“Elite”? Any group of professionals can be called “elite” by the ones who have not studied their work. Don't you think it is sounding too much “French Revolutionist” for these days?
The main problem is that there is no need of a big ability to play pop songs. So, of course, NO academic or decent artist must remove the theory which will make you understand everything you need from the most simple Beatles song to the most complex works made by contemporary composers who, based on the writings of Charlotte C Gill, probably doesn't exist at all, since they are not part of the big musical market in UK (that one from “media culture” an the “billions”)
“Not every student will benefit from notation:”
Only the ones who wants to learn and discover the art of music.
“some can learn aurally; others through letters or shapes. I play the piano through reading letters alone (D/F#, for example), churning out chords as if it were a guitar. In the US I have seen children pick up songs through tablature alone. Sure, we may not be able to tell the difference between the bass and treble clef, but we can play our favourite songs.”
I really hope the government had not paid for your education
I will give a strange example I just had in mind:
If you can use “Paintbrush” in computers with “Windows” system, that doesn't mean you are a painter, even if you can put the right colors in the right places.
So, do you think the teachers in painting classes must stop to use their techniques and start to use only “paintbrush” (or any other computer tool) to put your favorite colors because it makes you happy? Sounds like art as a person's toilet paper because of the market.
“That is all I ever wanted from music.”
Yes, “you want”. And it is quite clear you do not want to be able to play Beethoven. But there are several hundreds of students who can be interested after listening to it for the first time, so it is not about changing the way of studying. It is about how the make the students understand that the ART OF MUSIC does not belong to the MARKET. If you want to study music, you go the right way (even if you are alone, like happened with me, since I'm from Brazil and there are no public schools with music nor my family had money to give me a formal education in music. I did it alone! Now I'm a professional.)
“I worry that the current state of play means many children are, quite literally, locked out. As a discipline, music needs to attract a bigger crowd.
We do not need untalented musicians as we don't need untalented doctors.
We need to show the students what is art. And give access to them if they want.
Once someone really wants it, nobody can stop the interest and the personal research.
“Diversity breeds diversity, and teaching is where this needs to start.”
The diversity is only noticed when you have the necessary pre-requisites to understand it. Diversity in music is not about how you are dressed like or what is written in your song lyrics. Music is about sounds and silences. And a discussion about “lyrics” must be left to the UK poets.
Any discussion about music teaching must be made by people with necessary pre-requisites for this.
Learning “Mozart” and “West Side Story” as claimed by Charlotte C Gill is the same to say:
– I know a tea which is good for stomach, now, I want to make changes in the grades from medicine universities in UK.
That is ridiculous and is a step back in a world where more and more the people are acting like idiots.
April 10th, 2017
São Carlos, Brazil
Read more about it at Ian Pace's blog: