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Bernadette Peters - Broadway's Best
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'I Can't Afford a Music Degree - And If I Could, I Wouldn't Buy O'
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#beginquote# Every person who has decided to quit studying an instrument shares a common dissatisfaction. Otherwise, why stop? Itís not difficult to understand the aesthetically satisfying and therapeutic benefits of music. For most people, music is an integral part of their everyday lives. But why do some people take up an instrument just to decide that itís not a worthwhile investment of their time? Could it be that the immeasurable amount of theoretical information involved in learning about music seems more like science than leisure? Could it be that one doesnít have enough free time in their day to truly devote an adequate amount of time to an instrument? Unfortunately, one of the most common reasons is just plain laziness. When a student fails to practice, it more than likely means that the student doesnít feel that learning their instrument is interesting enough to devote time to practicing. Not all students who feel this way are really dissatisfied with the instrument, but with the means by which they are learning. There are several different approaches to all different styles of learning, even though it would be nice to believe that one method may work well with everyone. Some teachers use the same approach with every student. I donít believe itís fair to judge anyone on the premise that any one teaching method will work automatically. There are so many different types of students who have different expectations when taking up an instrument. The ones who feel that they will be able to pick up a guitar and magically start playing it usually get frustrated within a month or two if their desire to study and practice is half-hearted. Other more unfortunate cases involve students who have a desperate desire to learn only what they want to learn. They nonchalantly struggle through lessons month after month always excelling when learning the music they want to play. However, when asked to study something else, it takes three times as long to complete the task. Then there are students whose passion for music is so strong that they are ready and willing to practice everything you put in front of them. Those students still have to be handled with much care as to what exactly gets put in front of them. Again, not all students have the same mindset. The answer to this dilemma is to find a way to teach the student something that they will retain, while at the same time, keep their interest. Itís hard to explain to a beginning student just why he or she should practice something that seems totally irrelevant. A new student might not understand why learning notes or doing finger exercises is going to help them play cool guitar riffs. The harsh reality is that it takes hard work to realize successful results. Many students hear the words ďhard workĒ and automatically relate it to the kind of manual labor that they have learned to associate with discomfort. Ironically, by immediately altering the mindset of the student, the teacher will be able to assign a fair regiment of lesson material without making the student feel like he or she has done any real work. That is my goal as a teacher. Some people believe we have to let go of every expectation we have in any given situation and go with the flow. Music is very much that way. You can study music your whole life and understand everything about the craft, but nothing about the art. More commonly, however, most people are more inclined to dedicate their life to an art for which they know no craft. To many, music is not a science. Itís not spoken in theories or studied in textbooks. The best music schools in the world are free, and theyíre right around the corner. Spending a hundred-thousand dollars for a certificate is a joke to a lot of phenomenally hard working musicians who struggle in the rat race of the modern music industry. Sadly, for the people who wish to teach music in any sort of politically regulated institution (public or private) a college degree is their only hope. And it sucks. In my experience with college level music study, I was completely disappointed and even less intrigued with the limited guitar programs. Since I was a music education major and guitar is my main instrument, I was forced to study classical guitar with no other option. This would have been great if it were the 1600s. The nylon string classical guitar is such a beautiful and important instrument. Unfortunately, it would take a lifetime devoted to solely classical guitar to truly respect the music written for it. Yet, this lost art form was being force fed to me as if it was the only style of guitar playing known to man. Why not teach finger style bossa rhythms or Spanish guitar ballads on a steel string acoustic? I have never, in over five years of teaching experience, had a student who specifically asked to play classical guitar. There is no demand for classical guitar music in todayís youth. The most classical sounding material they have been exposed to is Yes ďFragile,Ē if theyíre lucky. Many people who teach and play classical music are so caught up in the discipline that they close their minds to everything else. The music school I attended was overrun by classical and jazz snobs who could spend hours arguing whose breakfast cereal held the key to memorizing sixteenth-note Mixolydian scales at 200 BPM. Who cares? And that was the least disturbing part. The most disturbing part is that as a music education major was the courses of study. One must study numerous concert band and orchestra instruments, for a half-semester each, excluding the saxophone. There is also a requirement that all music ed majors are to be in at least two ensembles. Yet the only guitar specific ensemble offered is Guitar Ensemble. If you are a guitar player, all of your instrument oriented classes have to be choral, since there are no guitar specific classes offered. I guess I should have just been a clarinet major. Upon graduation, a new music teacher would then be qualified to teach in a professional level position, perhaps in a high school or community college. Now, the teacher is ready to use the one month of experience he or she has on each instrument to teach your children. So what happens after your child has studied their instrument for a month? Do they start assigning the teacher homework? No. Your children continue to receive lessons from someone who doesnít know anymore about the clarinet than you do. Iím not putting down the teacher; Iím putting down the system. Itís not the teacherís fault that schools are too cheap to hire more than one or two band directors for thirty to forty children. Itís also not the teacherís fault that the school wonít hire a handful of independent contractors to give lessons on each instrument the school offers. Instead, the school opts to let a completely under-qualified teacher take the responsibility. Unless the teacher is giving lessons on his or her main instrument, there is no way to fulfill an adequate standard of success when teaching a student. Itís this kind of half-ass dictation in college that leads to half-ass music programs in public schools. The situation's such a son of a bitch, it's a hand I could not lend...the problem here is that we need to move on - it's the music or the end... #endquote#
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