Popular Music vs Traditions

imgres.jpgMy music classroom has changed over the past 25 years.  As a 12 year old piano student, I was disengaged and only found enjoyment when I self taught myself “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. It was at this point I learnt what a chord was!  My piano teacher only taught classical music.  Today I am an excellent sight reader because of these experiences.  I had very limited classroom music in primary school and none at secondary level.  When you look at self-learners like Leclercq Pop Culture by Leclerqc and his associated success, one has to question the way and what we teach in schools.   self-learners

In my teaching practice experience,  I have found the key to engagement is music choice. Let the student decide what they want to play/learn.  The tricky part comes next!

Musical Futures pedagogy is a breath of fresh air for my classroom music programs. Getting students to play first is the key.  As Richard Gill says “Sound before Symbol”.  I first met Richard at Maryborough Music Conference 2015 and watched his improvising session using a limited choice of notes.  If Leclercq had been involved in Musical Futures, he would have the opportunity to self-learn or collaborate within his friendship group. The pedagogy Musical Futures is based on Lucy Green’s research “…it focuses on one of the central ways in which popular musicians first acquire their skills – that is, listening to a recording, picking out a part, and attempting to play it by ear, usually with little or no formal guidance.

I followed Richard’s lead earlier this year  with my year 7 music classes.  We performed Goyte’s “Somebody that I used to know”.  All students improvised on their instrument of choice, by limiting their tone set to two or three notes/chords.   Through this engagement, we have discussed and experienced tonality, chords, progressions, graphic notation, improvisation, dynamics, motifs, part singing, texture and mood.

In summation, I believe that the future of music education is a bit of a balancing act with a change in pedagogy required (Musical Futures) and keeping a focus on the important elements of music.  These can only be taught AFTER students are engaged and THROUGHOUT the process of learning.  As Lucy Green says “How can I help this pupil achieve this particular goal”  The video interview is found here. Lucy Green – Music Futures

Clearly the role of the teacher is shifting and will require more ongoing and timely professional development offerings in areas like technology and pedagogy.


1 thought on “Popular Music vs Traditions

  1. Couldn’t agree more with you Melissa! It really seems like a no brainer that to ensure engagement, start with music students like. Teaching music should be exciting for the students, for goodness sakes!!


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