Music makes the world go sound


I spent a good bottle of red wine and some time (and whatever you are told, don’t believe ’em – time is cheap) watching 60 Minutes and this gem about how classical music and the spirit of Gustavo Dudamel is trying to bring ” the system” to America and make despair into hope.

I’d like to say how this relates to education but first a confession, a coming clean. I love my parents but have always resented that I didn’t learn a musical instrument while young. Nietzsche declared that, “without music, life would be a mistake”. I totally agree. If I had to chose between music and love, music would be it. But I’m clueless about creating music other than through words, words that too often are mistranslated and mangled. You see, there’s the rub and why we should learn a musical instrument – music doesn’t lie. It just is and we all know what it says……. but enough about me and also semiotics. Let’s talk education.

I find this video clip so fascinating not just because music can help children find hope and see the worth of working towards something and being disciplined. I find it fascinating because it is this same model we should bring towards “knowing”. Why do we kill the spirit and hunger of children, rip out their desire to know? This is the biggest question we have to answer in our day and age.

Music can uplift but I think we can build schools and communities of knowledge in the same way that “the system” of Gustavo does. People who care, nurturing the young in the spirit of inquiry. That’s what it is all about. Creating community and fostering the young. Paying back. And creating “HUNGER”.

As I look out on my own students, as I reflect on my own former classes — I remember so little hunger. The younger they were, the hungrier they were. But somewhere, the fire was quenched and nobody cared enough to keep it aflame.

I think the concept of school needs a whole rethink, just like classical music education. School should be for those who “want”. Without hunger, it is plodding and pedantic (for both student and teacher). We need to localize and begin by deregulating the teaching profession and using all the wonderful teachers in our communities who are left at the side (I’m thinking the elderly, the disabled, the early retired, the estranged). Where is the love people? And let me say, just like Gustavo is doing by buying musical instruments — we have to begin to “pay” students tangibly. It is this that is lacking in our educational (babysitting) culture.

If ever there was another musical maestro of Gustavo’s ilk, it is Benjamin Zander. He gets it too – it is all about motivation — view his TED Talk for the lecture of the century.

I hope we can do for education what Gustavo is doing for musical education. Let’s open the doors to student desire and open schools to the wider public……

PS. Thank you Ellen Pham for getting me to watch this – I previously saw the 60 min. episode about “the system” in Venezuela and thought it was the same. Happily not.

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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