Should Music Lessons Be FUN? by ProQuest


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									Should Music Lessons Be

                                      By Lesley Sisterhen McAllister

                                                      f the many philosophical       Some teachers bristle at the idea that
                                                      questions that music        music should be “fun.” It is, after all, a
                                                     teachers face on a regular   serious art, requiring discipline and
                                                   basis, one of the most fun-    hard work. Part of the goal of music
                                                damental is the purpose of        lessons should be learning how to
                                      taking music lessons. Teachers must         learn—how to focus and practice for
                                      consider the function of their calling      long periods of time, even without
                                      in order to serve their students and        immediate gratification.
                                      their field in the most effective way. At      Other teachers build a whole teach-
                                      times, the reasons that students are        ing philosophy around enabling stu-
                                      enrolled in music lessons do not align      dents to have fun while playing music.
    Lesley                            with the teacher’s thinking.                They have their students play in
 Sisterhen                               One of the reasons that parents or       ensembles or duets with the idea that
 McAllister is assis-                 students often cite is that they enjoy      it is more fun to collaborate with other
 tant professor of                    music and want to take lessons for          musicians than to practice alone. Or
 piano and director                   “fun.” Parents may say things like,         they teach their students to improvise,
 of piano pedagogy                    “We want our child to enjoy her les-        which often seems more like a creative
 at Baylor University                 sons!” Or, “It is more important for        game for students rather than hard
 in Waco, Texas,                      our child to have fun with it than to       work. Offering regular group classes,
 where she teaches courses in piano   be able to play perfectly.” We also hear    such as theory or musicianship classes,
 pedagogy and class piano and         similar requests from students: “Can I      may also provide an informal atmos-
 directs the Piano Laboratory         play this just for fun?” Often, teachers    phere, especially when the classes
 Program for community piano stu-     translate this question as “Can I just      include games or other entertaining
 dents.                               play through this without actually          activities. These teachers may put on
                                      practicing it or learning all the notes?”   theme recitals or blend recitals with
16                                                                                                     FEBRUARY/MARCH 2010
parties so students associate perform-     to teach the way we have been taught,       especially if they do not intend their
ance activities with relaxation and        and if we do not change our expecta-        children to become professional musi-
recreation. All of these ideas work        tions of students, we will begin to see     cians.
because they provide a stimulating         more and more students dropping out            Parents also want their child to con-
experience, as well as a comfortable       of lessons. Our very livelihood             tinue with music lessons. So many par-
environment in which students can          depends on changing our conception          ents tell the same story that it begins
enjoy themselves while learning. But       of music lessons.                           to sound like a prototype: they took
no matter what tactics a teacher              What is it that needs to change? We      lessons for years and quit for some rea-
designs, there remains an underlying       need, first of all, to stimulate students   son, usually in high school. Perhaps
question: Is enjoyment for its own sake    in ways that will connect with other        they did not like to practice, or their
the final goal of music lessons?           sources of enjoyment in their lives.        teacher was unkind, or their parents
   Play is the active verb when talking    The use of technology is one of the         could no longer afford lessons. No
about making music; for insta
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