Thoughts on C Gill’s Guardian article: “Music Education is now only for the white and the wealthy”
Gill’s article may be the nadir of a process which has been developing apace in state musical education – the progressive dumbing down of a curriculum which according to Ofsted should have, at its roots, the teaching of basic music notation at least. This dumbing down is a product of both austerity and the failure of government ministers to appreciate the value of music for academic attainment and emotional development. More importantly, the dumbing down is a product of teachers’ increasing reluctance to teach notation. Ofsted cites that teachers mistakenly believe notation is too difficult and not fun for the children. I would argue that many teachers simply do not know how to integrate notation into their teaching.
Gill states that ‘music education is where it needs to start’. This is about the only comment I can agree with and then only when taken out of context. She discloses that, musically, she is a product of poor teaching and cannot join the choirs she aspires to because she cannot read notation. She clearly regrets her limitations so why would she argue that thousands of others suffer her fate?
Notation is best integrated into the playing of music from the start and this can be done very simply – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJSIAKddLT8
Too many teachers leave notation teaching until some unspecified time in the future. This may make music more accessible and ‘fun’ initially but it does nothing to encourage musical independence for the student who can only copy.
I believe every student deserves to be given a choice and this can only be offered with some basic knowledge – a basic knowledge to be given to all. If Gill were to aim for this her position would be more supportable