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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Force-feeding kids classical music isn’t the answer

Photo: Rachael Dwyer
"Forcing kids to get involved with classical music won't make them appreciate it." according to Rachael Dwyer, Research fellow in Music Learning and Teaching at Griffith University.

Photo: The Conversation

"The benefits of music education are widely reported. Playing an instrument has been shown to have significant cognitive benefits." 

Creative thinking, social and emotional intelligence, coordination, memorization and auditory processing are all thought to improve in school-age children who learn music.

This makes it hard to argue with the fact that learning music is a good thing. But, when it comes to the type of music to teach, things get less agreeable.

Violin virtuoso Nicola Benedetti advocates forcing classical music on young people, complaining about teachers and parents who are reluctant to do so. In a recent interview with The Scotsman, Benedetti said:
It actually really upsets me when people say: ‘Kids hate listening to a symphony, why would we do that to them?’
I think, hang on a minute, if you were to turn round and say to a kid, ‘Would you like to play video games or would you like to have a maths lesson?’, of course they’re going to go for the video games.
Needing the child’s approval for what they do in school is just such an alien concept when you’re talking about maths, science, history or English, but, suddenly, when you bring music into the mix, it’s: ‘Oh no, we can’t show them anything that they don’t instantly love because that would be like forcing children into something that they don’t want to do.'
Considering Benedetti’s background and standing within the classical music world, her views are not surprising. To accept Benedetti’s argument however, is to accept that classical music is the music most worthy of study and that a force-feeding approach will be good for students.

It is not unusual for classical musicians to put forward that classical music is “better” than all other musical styles. The reasons for this belief is usually not able to be explained in more detail than “it’s just more sophisticated”.

French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu would suggest that classical music is highly valued because of who consumes it - those with money and power. This leads to a process of reproduction: things that are consumed by the elite classes become more valuable because of their association with wealth and power.

Source: The Conversation