Music Education

published articles

from the 60s, 70s and 80s

 


CrTony Crimlisk

Five articles on Music Education from the 60's - 80s

Move Over Beethoven! (1967)

By A.T. Crimlisk 

Head of Music at the Ethel Wormald College of Education, Liverpool

Re-printed from “Signpost” 1967 the magazine of the

Civil Service Council for Further Education, North Western Committee.

“Have you ever tried to write on opera?   Have you ever dreamed of making a fortune by writing a ‘pop-song’ or a ballad?   If not, why not?

It’s a sad fact that although many people are prepared to ‘have a go’ at writing poetry or prose, or at painting a picture or throwing a pot, few feel that they are equipped to write music.   Yet music probably plays a greater part in our lives, and we come into contact with it more and at an earlier age, than almost any other art.   Why then is it that people on the whole feel that there is an air of mystery about the creation of music that has something to do with years of grinding study, a touch of genius and a life spent starving in a garret?

One reason for regarding music as a re-creative art rather than a creative one lies in our schools.   Here music is, or was for a long time, thought of as purely a matter of singing songs, playing recorders and listening to recorded music all geared to learning some dreadful thing called ‘Theory’ - for which no practical use was ever found!  Only the very gifted were allowed to go on to study ‘harmony’ and very few of them ever made any use of it once examinations were over.   Of late years, schools, particularly those in Germany through the work of the composer CARL ORFF, have tried to redress the balance by getting even quite young children to compose and play their own music - not, I hasten to add, by ‘learning harmony’ and writing exercises on music manuscript paper - but by directly using sound (the very stuff of music) and improvising both vocally and on simple instruments which, although ‘real’ musical instruments, can be played by anyone with very little effort.   By the selective use of the notes available several instruments of various kinds can be played together producing a rich variety of harmonies, colours of sound and forms in many different ‘styles’.  By so doing they build up an extensive vocabulary of rhythms and melodies, an aural awareness of this vocabulary and a skill in using it.  After some proficiency in improvisation has been acquired the results can easily be written down in musical or even non-musical notation so that it can be reproduced at will.   Work of this kind can be extended to produce ‘operas’ or ‘symphonies’, dance music or ‘pop-songs’, and the remarkable thing is that although it’s rather exhausting, it’s also great fun and a bit of ‘theory’ and ‘harmony’ might even rub-off in the process.

Later on when the children start to learn how to play more complex instruments, as so many do now, they can begin to compose on these too.  In doing this they are of course simply doing what very many composers from Haydn (who carried his own portable harpsichord around with him) and Beethoven to Prokofiev did, that is compose, not always ‘out of their heads’, but by improvising on an instrument.   They may never become ‘real’ composers, but then I don’t suppose that the many amateur painters or writers ever think of themselves as ‘real’ artists or poets.  The attempt at the creative use of a particular artistic medium is its own reward in terms of satisfaction, fulfilment and enjoyment.

There is however, more to it than just simply satisfaction and enjoyment.   At a recent W.E.A. course held near Liverpool, adults both men and women, found that by attempting the process of musical creation for themselves - whatever the results may be - they learned a great deal about the techniques of the composer, and were thereby in a much better position to appreciate his particular problems in terms of phrasing, structure, form orchestration and so on, and his skill in overcoming these problems, developing his musical ideas and producing something which, sometimes, was a musical masterpiece, and sometimes just fell short of that.   Some even felt that the effort to learn how to play a more complex instrument than those used on the course might be worth while or began to realise just what a fascinating thing the study of harmony - academic or otherwise - can be.

So put aside (but don’t throw away) your ‘theory books’ and those tomes on academic harmony.   Get to an instrument, sing in your bath, or better still join an evening class on Creative Music-Making and play and sing with others (not in the bath!).   Like the housewives of Liverpool who produced a four-part motet for Christmas last year you may be surprised at what you can do.   Oh, by the way, if you do write that ‘pop-song’ and make a fortune, the Editor will give you the address to which you can send my five per cent”.


  

SCHOOLS’ SONGWRITING COMPETITION (1979)

 

Tony Crimlisk: Head of Music at Edge Hill College of Higher Education 

Publisjed in ‘Music Teacher’ magazine article: December 1979

Some time ago I was walking around an exhibition of children’s art at the Liverpool Academy of Art with its President, Liverpool poet and artist, Adrian Henri. The paintings represented the insights into the world of the child, some highly individual, others heavily influenced by what was seen to be the requirements of school or teacher. Some of the paintings demonstrated a high degree of technical ability, a sense of design, colour, texture and draughtsmanship , whilst others, perhaps for me the most interesting, managed with a minimum of technique to really express the world of the child – a contemporary, real world, unique to the artist.

Music in schools so often tends to be performance-based and teacher directed. The acquisition of skills, practical or literary, the re-creation of other people’s music or the passive listening to music is a common diet yet, thinking of this in visual terms who would accept as valid, an art education which consisted only of those aspects: of technical drawing, art history and looking at and copying (however freely interpreted) great works of art past or present? In the visual arts it is taken as normal that the creative aspect is central to the others. Is music so different?

Creative music presents problems not applicable to the visual arts but, looking at the paintings on the wall, I felt certain that children’s music could be treated in a similar way, the one basic problem being that whereas paintings exist in space, music exists in time and has to be listened to. It was at that time that I determined, as a contribution to the Year of the Child in 1979, to organise a Schools Songwriting Competition for children in the North West.

Preparations began, in fact, some eighteen months before the Competition itself, not only working out the form the Competition would take, but also organizing prizes and people to help with judging and presentation. The competition was to be a co-operative venture between Edge Hill College of Higher Education and the Liverpool Academy of Arts Festival in June.

The Song form was chosen rather then any other kind of musical form for two reasons: in the first place because the song is probably, at its most basic, the simplest form of musical composition – almost anyone can make up a song, singing into a tape recorder if necessary. The literary skills needed to be able to write out a single-line melody and add chord indications are very easily and quickly acquired. Secondly, it seemed to me that songs, more than any other form of musical composition, would be likely to appeal to youngsters and were perhaps also the nearest aural equivalent to a visual painting.

I felt at the outset that it was vitally important to make this a Competition in which, again like an art competition, all children could enter if they wished. Accordingly entries were invited in any style – ‘pop’, popular, folk, rock, ballad, classical, serious or novelty – and could be submitted either by means of a tape or cassette recording or on manuscript – though preferably both. In February all schools in the Lancashire and Merseyside districts were circulated with information about the Competition. I also circulated publicity reports to the local press and recorded interviews on Radio Merseyside and Radio Lancashire and appeared on the Keith ‘Cheggars’ show on Radio City.

Initially I had hoped to persuade either Paul McCartney or Cliff Richard to present prizes to the winners; neither were able to do so, but both were generous in supplying records, albums and books as prizes. Most generous of all, however, was an offer made by Jeremy Lewis, Managing Director of a local recording studio – Amazon Studios near Kirby – to give the three winning entries a full days work in his eight-track studio so that professional recordings could be made.

The period from February to May was a nerve-racking one wondering whether, after all the preparation anyone would enter. Slowly, however, the songs began to come in and it soon became clear the quality was going to be high. By the final date for submission, over seventy songs had been entered with ages ranging from eight to eighteen. Perhaps most encouragingly 90% of the songs entered were from children in the secondary age-range. About three-quarters of the entries were in the form of cassette or tape recordings, some also with manuscripts, some not.

The great difficulty was the tremendous range of types of songs. How can one compare a nine-year-old’s religious song with a sixteen-year old’s thoughts about suicide, or two sixteen-year-old’s song about an aging stripper with an anarchistic piece of punk rock? This difficult task was given to a panel of judges, which, in addition to myself, consisted of Adrian Henri and Jeremy Lewis; also included were Mike McGear, well-known member of the ‘Scaffold’, a writer and musician and John Sage, Granada T.V. producer and reviewer of ‘Melodymaker’ magazine. The panel met and for over four hours carefully listened to and considered every song submitted. We were clear that this was a songwriting and not a song performing competition, so equal consideration was given to an entry on a scrappy bit of paper and to a very professional sounding recording. We were equally clear that we were not trying to spot potential commercial successes. The songs were listened to in the same way that one might look at a painting, and we were concerned to find good melodies, good lyrics, and a good match between the two.

In the end the three joint first prizewinners – as it happened one had been submitted only on tape, one only on manuscript and one with both, were sixteen years old Aruna Arya’s beautiful song ‘The Year of the Child’, the catchy ‘Sunday’s not the way it used to be’ by Tina Smith 16) and Ruth Darlington (15) and Fiona Miller and Beverly Kirkham’s attractive song ‘Every Time you leave Me’ – both sixteen – were all judged worthy winners and were recorded at Amazon Studios under the supervision of the composers. Mandy Bates (14), Kim Bates (13) and Adrian Corns (13), together with Jonathan Wood (11) were runners-up and received prizes of L.P.s and tapes in addition to their certificates. But that still left a lot of talent unrewarded and some first-rate songs unrecognized and so John Bannister (17), Bruce Jackson (18), Christine Napier (14), Kevin Malpass (18), Christine Judge (9), Malandra, Borrows (13) and the children involved in the entries from Speke Comprehensive School Merseyside with their teacher Allen Hayes, were all awarded special Highly Commended certificates at the public prize giving and concert held at Edge Hill at the end of June.

The competition highlighted, I believe, the very great deal of talent and enthusiasm which for the most part is untapped, unused and unprovided for in the majority of our schools where the traditional role of music needs modification to stimulate and cater for imaginative activity on an individual basis and meet the musical needs of children such as those who entered the Competition. Songwriting for them was an act of personal creation, involving, not only concentration, dedication, craftsmanship and love, but also satisfaction and self- realisation. It was their imaginative response to the world in which they live in the ‘Year of the Child’ and, as Emerson wrote: “Imagination is not the talent of some men, but the health of all”.

Footnote: The competition continued for a further seven years.

 

 

Wee have a Sound-house (1971)

Tony Crimlisk

Head of Music at the Ethel Wormald College of Education, Liverpool 

Published in two parts in the 'Music Teacher' magazine May/June 1984

1.

 “SOME of our students call it “The Polling Station”, whilst others, rather unkindly I feel in view of the fact that the majority of our students are women (mature women at that), call it “The Hen-house”.  What they are referring to in fact is the new Music Laboratory, or if that sounds too clinical, the “Sound-House” recently installed at the Ethel Wormald College of Education in Liverpool. The Ethel Wormald is a day college of education for mature students, situated near the centre of Liverpool, almost midway between its two cathedrals, and it caters for around 300 students preparing to teach in nursery, infant and junior schools.

The Music Laboratory, which has been some four years in the planning, consists of the main (indeed the only) lecture room in the Department which has been fitted with 12 acoustically tiled booths each containing its own power point. The room itself is about 20 square feet with a writing surface for use with felt-tipped pens (to avoid harmful chalk-dust) and a projection screen at on end, and several tables grouped in the centre.  The acoustically tiled partitions between the booths can be unhooked and the table in each booth folded against the wall so that the number and size of the booths can be altered or the whole room converted back to a normal lecture room should more space be required.

At the moment five of the booths contain electronic organs, three contain record players (all stereophonic) two for use with earphones and the third connected to loud-speakers, one contains a tape-recorder whilst the remainder house various tuned percussion instruments - glockenspiels, xylophones etc.  A corner booth is reserved for any odd items of sound producing “junk” which people bring along - lengths of bamboo, plastic cups, ash-trays, bottles, flower-pots, an egg-slicer, metal tubes and rods, assorted boxes, pieces of wood and bottle-tops, anything in fact which might conceivably be coaxed to make an interesting sound.   Because, for financial reasons, the various items of equipment were bought at different times, the organs are not all of the same make.   There are two Livingstone and Burgess “Countess” organs each with two manuals (bought at “sale” price), a small “Gemini” organ bought a year later whilst the other two organs are both “Philicordas” bought at the time the laboratory was constructed in late 1970.   The whole system is joined together by a Philips control unit, which sits on one of the “Philicordas”.  This organ is the  “master organ” and from it it’s possible to talk, play or listen to any of the other organs either singly or collectively. Students working in their own booths on the organs hear only either themselves or the tutor through their own individual head-set and can talk back to the tutor through a small microphone fitted to the head-set. No one else in the room can hear a sound, only the tutor, sitting at the master organ,can hear a student playing and he can talk or play back to offer help or advice without anyone else in the room hearing. The tutor, if he wishes, can talk to an individual student or to two or more at the same time. As an alternative to working from the master organ, the tutor may also visit students individually and plug his earphones directly into the booth, in this way he can offer more practical help whilst again not disturbing the work of students in- neighbouring booths. The number of students that can be taught virtually simultaneously in this way is limited only by the number of booths wired into the system.  Work need not, of course, be limited to booths which also contain an organ.  Programmes of work in, for example, aural-training, melody-writing, harmony, analysis, history, creative work, indeed anything which involves individual work and where it is helpful to have a tutor on hand to supervise and assist, can be recorded on tape and fed into selected booths. It would thus be quite feasible, at one and the same time, to have, say, four students working individually and at different levels on keyboard harmony whilst another six are working at an aural training programme (with or without the help of instruments according to their ability) and two more are listening to records. Since all this involves no sound in the room a further group of six or eight students could be reading, discussing, planning or working with instruments at the centre tables. With the exception of the two listening to records the tutor would be in contact with all the work going on and could monitor the student without disturbing him and offer help when and where it was needed.

This may all sound a bit “1984-ish”, but there are impressive practical advantages especially for a college such as the Ethel Wormald where staffing and space is limited.  The cost of building and equipping the Music Laboratory is a fraction of that which would be required to produce the same work-potential through additional staff or additional rooms. The real advantage must be seen, however, as giving the student the incentive and facilities for intensive development in a situation which, although teacher-guided, is essentially student, rather than teacher, motivated.

To explain this last point further, and before going on to discuss the more specific rôle which, it is hoped, the Music Laboratory will play in the music courses at the college, it might be helpful to mention some of the thoughts and philosophies behind these courses.

As Philip Pfaff mentioned in his article in Music Teacher (July 1970), colleges of education are concerned with developing teachers first, and musicians second - other institutions cater for the training of musicians as such. This does not of course mean that we should not keep our musical standards as high as possible, but simply that we should get our priorities right. This being so, colleges of education are concerned  with  putting students into the frame of mind which considers music work in schools as an “educational medium” through the many and various musical experiences and involvements which can be attempted. To many students, who remember their own school days, school music is synonymous with class singing and often little else; one hopes that this is no longer the case in the majority of schools. As an educational medium, music has much to offer, not only on its own, but also in relation to other areas. Quite often music work can be a “jumping-off” point from which to make excursions into science, drama, dance, language or areas of personal sensory exploration or exploration of the environment and although here I am concerned particularly with primary education, much the same is true also of secondary education.

Music is basically a language - a means of communication either to other people or to oneself - and therefore, as in language, we are concerned with three aspects:

Awareness - that is the ability to discriminate and evaluate sounds.

Manipulation - the ability to imagine, organise and structure sound (which is of course the basic material of music).  This is as true for original creative work as it is for the interpretation of music.

Control - that is musical literacy or what I prefer to call “Auracy” which is not only “reading and writing” but is also awareness of past and present literature, methods and materials.

The development of awareness, in this case aural awareness; the ability of the ear to discriminate and evaluate sounds, is still a very much-neglected aspect of education despite the fact that some 20 to 30 per cent of our knowledge about the world comes to us aurally. Auditory discrimination, which can be developed through music work, is vital in other areas. Schone H, writing about language development has said:  “weakness in auditory discrimination of speech sounds represents a lowered power of discrimination of word sounds and manifests itself as an inability to remember speech sounds, to discriminate between speech sounds somewhat similar  in  kind,  and to  analyse and synthesise correctly the auditory element of words. It is a mental and not an organic deficiency.”

Sheridan too, writing in 'The Child’s hearing for Speech' (Methuen 1948), has shown that children are born with the capacity for making every sound necessary for adult speech in all languages, and that language development takes place by a process of restriction through auditory discrimination.  The development of the ear, that is the development of the mind’s ability to deal with information supplied to it by the ear, is then of paramount importance and music education is the best-placed area to deal with this since, as Dr. Arnold Bentley has also stressed in Musical Ability in Children (Harrap 1966), and educationalists studying the work of Kodaly in Hungary have proved, music is an activity of the mind.

If the development of the ear as such is still a very much-neglected aspect of education, we are at least beginning to have second thoughts about the second aspect - manipulation, or the ability to imagine, organise and structure material presented in various ways.  Brian Brocklehurst pointed this out in a recent article (Music Teacher, January 1971) when referring to the work of the American psychologist J. P. Guildford who postulates the existence of 120 factors in intelligence and claims to have isolated over 50 of these by the mathematical technique of factor analysis.

Many of these factors are ignored in the assessment of intelligence by normal so-called "intelligence tests" which favour the convergent, as opposed to the divergent thinker. The divergent thinker, that is the person capable of breaking away from usual sequences of thought, of speculating, risking, inventing, in short of being imaginative, the usual educational process does little to encourage, in fact, the qualities usually associated with such a pupil - independence, a questioning attitude, a refusal to be stereo-typed or educationally processed - are characteristics usually firmly discouraged. Creative musical activities, both individual and group, give many opportunities for the development of divergent thinking and, in ways which will be described in a later article, are appropriate to all, not just to the musically “gifted” or to the “arts” student or the “specialist” student teacher.

The development of the third aspect, “auracy” or musical literacy which must be aural and conceptual as well as technical, can only take place by building on the other two elements. Music, like other arts, works in a particular medium - it is SOUND.   My working definition of music is “organised sound”.  This definition embraces modern experimental music, electronic music and musique concrete as well as traditional forms, whatever definition is applied, however, music exists by sounds being evaluated, manipulated and placed into some kind of conceptual context.  What is produced exists, but if it is to continue to exist it must be recorded for oneself or for others to recreate.  Children and students alike can do this by recording tape, by graphic representation or by conventional notation.  Too often in the past musical literacy has been aimed at through the study of music as an intellectual discipline. I hope for literacy to develop as a result of the motivation brought about by involvement of organising and structuring sound on both a practical and an imaginative level and by the growing awareness of the place of such work in a widening historical and musical context.   “Appreciation”, wrote Sir Herbert Read, “is not acquired by passive contemplation; we can only appreciate beauty on the basis of our own creative aspirations, abortive though these may be.”    Just how these ideals can be developed in a practical way, and in particular the part the Music Laboratory can play I hope to discuss in the second half of this article

2.

In the first article under this title, I gave a description of the Music Laboratory which has recently been installed at the Ethel Wormald College of Education in Liverpool and which consists of 12 acoustically tiled booths some containing tuned percussion instruments, record-players, etc., and others containing electronic organs wired up to a master organ.   The system allows the tutor to monitor the work in the booths and play or talk to the student working there or for the student to talk or play to him. The tutor can communicate with one or more students or with the whole group. Other students can work normally in the same room, since all the listening is done through ear-phones so that no sound is heard from the organs. I also tried to indicate some of the thinking behind the work which we try to do and in this second article I will discuss the more practical aspects of the courses and the ways in which the Music Laboratory can help, bearing in mind of course that it is just one “tool” used in one aspect,  though  a  most  important aspect, of the courses.

Basic to my concepts about music in education is, firstly, that music in the class-room is a valuable educational media through which aural, physical, intellectual, emotional and social developments can take place often allied to other areas, in addition to any aesthetic or purely musical developments.

Secondly, that the material of music – SOUND – can, and should, be manipulated both physically and imaginatively at all levels and the results seen against a wide musical and cultural background, and that only by handling the material of music for oneself can one fully appreciate the work of others and begin to be aware of values by which critical evaluations can be made. INVOLVEMENT - which, it seems to me, is what education is all about, is the keynote.  If sound is the basic material of music, then sound must be the first thing with which to be involved.   Any sounds; sounds we can make ourselves by singing of course, but also by clapping, stamping, clicking, etc., or by making sounds from objects found lying around like the collection mentioned in the first article - boxes, metal rods, plant-pots, etc. There are also of course the sounds which are all around us, so much a part of our environment that quite often we are all but unaware of them. Put this magazine down (but don’t forget to pick it up again) and LISTEN . . . These sounds are part of our lives and our first task with children as well as adults is to make them AWARE. Aware of the particular quality or timbre of the sounds, either heard or made; aware of their dynamics.  Do they stay constantly at the same volume or change; do they get louder or softer; is the pitch constant; can they be interpreted in any way, e.g. is that a car, a lorry or a motorcycle you can hear? Once aware of sounds we can begin to organise them; to give them pattern, shape, form or, by combining them, alter their texture and character.  By my definition this is music since we are organising sound even though we are not using a single “musical” instrument, but if you prefer to call it  “sound-effects” what matter?  Vivaldi, Beethoven, Berlioz - all used sound-effects in their works. Simple musical instruments can of course be used in the same way simply as “sound-sources” with no attempt at a “technique” and, with thought and care, good organisation and sound awareness (in fact good musicianship) the results can be somewhat similar to modern experimental music. This is important since, as George Self points out in New Sounds in Class (Universal Edition, 1967);

“Pupils so often leave school with little knowledge of even the existence of the serious music of their own time and yet for the first time in this century it is possible to introduce avant-garde idioms into the classroom without watering down the style to such an extent that no living music remains”.

The tape-recorder can also be valuable here, not just as a means of recording work done and therefore allowing children or students to be involved in listening as well as doing, but also as an “instrument” in its own right.  By recording sounds typical of the environment, students with no instrumental ability can manipulate the resulting tapes to produce sound montages or musique concrete with very effective results.  In both the case of the simple organisation of live sounds and also that of the organisation of recorded tapes, musical values will show; sensitivity to sound, imagination and hard work are the qualities needed rather than instrumental technique which, it is so often felt, must precede any involvement in creative music-making.

Instrumental and musical techniques will begin to follow from involvement in sound. With children this will take the form of the use of simple percussion instruments-improvisation in large groups, composition in small groups and, of course, the listening to, playing and singing of works by other composers. Whilst the same is true of students at College of Education pressures of time and often-extreme differences in ability, either technical or imaginative, make individual work essential which is where the Music Laboratory enters the picture again.

Students working individually at the organs can set about exploring, for example, simple melodic patterns using two or three notes only. To this melody, based for complete beginners perhaps on word-patterns, he can add a simple rhythmic or melodic “ostinato”.   If he wishes this ostinato could be pre-recorded on tape- perhaps as a tape-loop-and fed into the organ separately. Later, using the pentatonic scale, two students, working on one of the two manual organs, could improvise two-part pieces. The melodies so composed can be written out either in notation or, again for beginners, simply by letter-names with words by which to guide the rhythm.   It goes without saying this work could be equally well done on simple percussion instruments or pianos.   The advantage of the Music Laboratory set up here is, firstly, economy of space and equipment; to work “live” would require a number of practice rooms, most of them equipped with pianos, and at the Ethel Wormald we have only two practice rooms, both of which are in use most of the time for individual instrumental lessons. Secondly, working in the Music Laboratory the tutor can be constantly on hand to help as required; perhaps there is also more of a feeling of communal effort when a group of students are all working together in the same room at their various tasks. For this kind of work also electronic organs have other advantages, they are on the whole easier to play for a beginner than a piano, they also provide a variety of sound  “colours”.  With a little imagination students can begin to hear mentally the possibilities of string or orchestral writing. There is a great thrill too in using the “reverberation” stop so that one appears to be playing in a large hall. The way in which it is possible to build up sound complexes using the 2’, 4’ and 8’ stops in the various qualities aids aural awareness, and indeed playing these sounds through an oscilloscope shows clearly sine or “saw-tooth” wave forms, etc., and these can be related to the qualities of sound brought about by the formation of upper-partials in acoustic instruments.   It should be noticed that throughout, the stress has been on the use of the organs as “sound sources” rather than instruments in their own right,  which of course they are. 

The attempt is by individual and practical involvement to build up a vocabulary of melodic, rhythmic and harmonic ideas, which, of course, must be heard physically before they can be heard mentally. This is particularly true of harmony. Keyboard harmony as such is taught on pianos, but the organs can help greatly in developing an aural awareness of harmony, especially through the use, on the Philicordas, of a stop whereby pressing down a single note produces a full chord. Using this stop a student can work out a basic harmony to a melody and then set about producing a suitable arrangement. The stop can also help in further developing creative work melodically. For example, one might put down the chord of, say, C major, and ask for a melody to be improvised using only the notes of the C major triad.  Keeping the same chord sounding we could then explore the added possibilities of using unaccented passing notes, then accented passing notes, upper and lower appogiaturas, etc. - all on the same chord which, of course, remains sounding so long as the note is held down.   One could then repeat the project using patterns of two, three or more chords.

The resulting discoveries are related back to instrumental work and to other pieces heard and discussed, perhaps in relation to work in music history and development. A useful development from this is the use of cards containing a basic thematic idea - usually only three or four notes - from which a composition can be developed exploring in addition to the devices mentioned above, also suspensions, retardations, sequence, repetition, development, phrase extension and, of course, structure and form.

Harmonic development, both for keyboard harmony and for creative projects, can progress in the normal ways from primary to secondary triads, common chromatic harmony, secondary sevenths, etc. to simple modulation, but we also encourage experiments in unrelated triads.  It is often helpful to suggest a specific idea here, for example, a short signature tune for a TV serial about two tramps based on the triads C and Eb; or a pipe and tabor tune based on C and Dm. Other titles - “Sailing Boats”, “Portrait of a Friend”, “Weightless in Space”, etc., etc. would suggest other vocabularies or treatments. As facility and imagination grows note clusters or harmony based on fourths, bi-tonal, poly-tonal or a-tonal, can be explored, and at any stage from two-note melodies onwards pieces can be gathered together in groups as operettas or song-cycles or character music for movement or dance, etc. With students who find it difficult to get away from their “0” and “A” level harmony exercises, the use of an unfamiliar scale can often provoke original thought:

At the Ethel Wormald College we no longer require the study of academic harmony of the eighteenth century vocal style type, preferring to explore harmony in its wider and, we feel, more musical aspects.  Some students, of course, want to study and are capable musically and technically of studying specific styles, and they may choose to model their work on the Bach chorale, a Haydn string quartet, the piano pieces of Bartok or the guitar music of Villa-Lobos. This work may be considered pastiche, but not all students are capable of original thought, just as not all students wish to be involved in twentieth century styles.  A useful activity can sometimes be to give a student a number of records of works by a particular composer and ask him to produce a piece of his own “in homage” to the style or composer studied.

The Music Laboratory has, in the context of the kind of courses we try to offer, many exciting possibilities. We have much to learn about how to use it effectively and, of course, as mentioned earlier, it represents only one tool which can be used in an attempt at education through music - but it is an exciting tool, and one strangely predicted by Francis Bacon nearly 350 years ago when he wrote”:

“Wee have also Sound-Houses, wher wee practise and demon-strate all Sounds, and their Generation. Wee have Harmonies which you have not, of Quarter-Sounds and Lesser Slides of Sounds.  Diverse Instruments of Musick likewise to you unknowne, some sweeter than any you have; Together with Bells and Rings that are dainty and sweet. Wee represent Small sounds as Great and Deepe;  Likewise Great Sounds, Extenuate and Sharpe; We make diverse Tremblings and Warblings of Sounds, which in their Originall are Entire. Wee represent and imitate all Articulate Sounds and Letters, and the Voices and Notes of Beasts and Birds. Wee have certaine Helps, which sett to the eare doe further the Hearing greatly. Wee have also diverse Strange and Artificiall Eccho’s, Reflecting the Voice many times, and as it were Tossing it: And some that give back the Voice Lowder than it came, some Shriller, and some Deeper; Yea some rendering the Voice, Differing in the Letters or Articulate Sound, from that they receyve. Wee have also meanes to convey Sounds in trunks and Pipes, in strange Lines, and Distances': from “New Atlantis” by Francis Bacon (1624)

 

... it’s close, but in music education Atlantis is still not quite with us!

 

To LISTEN is to FORGET

To SEE is to REMEMBER

To DO is to UNDERSTAND

                                    (Ancient Chinese proverb)

 

MUSIC AND THE MICRO (1984)

Tony Crimlisk: Head of Music at Edge Hill College of Higher Education 

Published in the ‘Music Teacher’ Magazine (1984)

Walk through any town shopping centre and it would be difficult not to be aware of the tremendous impact, which MICRO-ELECTRONICS is making on all aspects of our lives. Microcomputers, using a silicon chip the size of a fingernail and performing functions which, thirty years ago would have required equipment taking up the space of a large room, are now offered for sale at prices which are rapidly' coming within the reach of almost anyone. That same ubiquitous chip is also finding its way into all manner of other equipment from washing machines to cars, affecting the things we do at all levels, and it all seems to have happened so quickly. The impact on our lives can be seen all too readily by looking at the rows and rows of books and magazines on computers, computing and allied subjects in any bookshop. But what about the impact on our thinking, and what implications might there be for MUSIC EDUCATION'?

In the twentieth century we have all been living through a technological revolution: so much so that we have become almost complacent as one miracle advance follows another. lt is easier to think of the "Micro-electronic revolution" as just another technological advance, but, addressing the conference in 1978 which initiated British governmental awareness of the impact of Microelectronics, Sir Ieuan Maddock, former British Chief Scientist (1), spoke of "the most remarkable technology ever to confront mankind"; and Alvin Toffler quotes the philosopher and art educator Sir Herbert Read as saying that we are about to begin; "a revolution so fundamental that we must search many past centuries for a parallel.... possibly the only comparable change", he says, "is the one that took place between the Old and the New Stone Age" (2). Toffler himself claims that we are entering a "Third Wave" of human civilization, with the changes that are taking place, largely as a result of the new technology, being of far greater significance than those of the industrial Revolution. We are, he says at the beginning of a new era. David Rosenboom (3) goes further and writes; "our species carries a misnomer that until now we have actually been HOMO FACIENS - man the producer and that HOMO SAPIENS – man the thinker is only just about to be born". Clearly important changes are taking place and will increasingly affect our lives – not least in the area of music.

Music's role in society is, and always has been, both central and extensive. Of over 3.000 identifiable cultures in the world, anthropologists have been unable to identify one which has not had music in one form or another. In today’s world, music is all pervasive and it would be difficult to get through any day without it playing some part whether as "aural wallpaper" in the supermarket, on radio, television or film or simply humming or whistling a tune to oneself. The music industry worldwide is a multi-million pound one, which affects the lives of us all in one way or another - especially the lives of the young. Despite this, music in schools and colleges does not, on the whole, reflect this role or this importance and in fact the SCHOOLS COUNCIL'S 1970 questionnaire, "Enquiry One", showed young school leavers considering music to be one of the most "boring and useless" subjects in the curriculum! Little seems to have changed since then and young people are opting out of music as a school subject at an alarming rate.

Can using microtechnology help to put music education's house in order? By itself of course it can't: it does NOT represent yet another "method" or "bandwagon" to be merrily grafted on to the existing music curriculum, and filling the music department with microcomputers' synthesisers or any amount of electronic wizardry, and even learning how to use them, will not help unless at the same time we look very closely, and very deeply, at some of the underlying assumptions both in music and in education.

Our assumption about what music is and does, and therefore what the role of music education is or should be, stretches back a long way. In so-called “primitive”, preliterate societies music performs a basic social function: it is essentially a ”making" art-form; a "way of knowing"' and a medium by which individuals and societies can come to understand themselves, their world, and their relationship to that world and through which, together with other art, forms, they balance their worldview. In order to have access to that medium however, it is also necessary to develop high levels of awareness and physical skills. In many preliterate societies children learn these skills alongside developing an awareness and understanding of the music and its relationship to their society. In the West, post-renaissance, we have rather tended to separate performance skills from the aesthetic and social functions they are intended to perform, just as we have also separated listener from performer and performer from composer.

The model for music education in this country following the 1870 Education Act was based predominantly on the viewpoint of the professional performing musician rather than the educator. In the years that have followed, music education has been largely seen as serving three needs: Firstly, educating the majority of pupils as "consumers" who will attend concerts and buy records or tapes and have an expectation of a music content on radio, films and television. Secondly, there are the potential performers: perhaps less than ten per cent of the total school population, these are the children who have the interest and capability to learn to play an instrument or sing either as amateurs or, much more rarely, as professionals. Finally out of this latter, very small, group are the even smaller elite who will be the potential composers producing the music for the professionals and amateurs to perform and the rest to enjoy as listeners. This viewpoint has dictated the content of music education as being to do with developing PERFORMANCE SKILLS, LITERACY - reading and writing music notation – and LITERATURE developing an "appreciation", and gaining factual historical and sociological information about European music of the last three hundred years or so. Moreover, for the understandable reason of maintaining status, the content of the music curriculum has had to be such that progress could be measured by quantitative, behavioural and essentially group assessment procedures. In combination, these factors have resulted in a tendency to turn music, the most powerful of all the arts, and the one to which; “all other arts aspire”, into either the province of an academic elite or into a de-natured reproductive craft-form used largely as a service activity to give prestige to the school or the County at concerts, Festivals or Speech Days. The “musical child” is, to many, synonymous only with “the child with academic or reproductive musical skills”.

The other arts were, for a time, similarly constricted, but various movements over the years, especially the ‘Child Art Movement’ in the 1930s began to look at the visual arts in education as an expressive MAKING art-form rather than predominantly in terms of developing skills and knowledge. Similar movements in music education have also existed, especially the various ‘creative music’ movements of the 50s and 60s, which employed technically simple instruments and ‘avant garde’ techniques but with only limited success, for whilst such techniques stimulate the imagination and sensitivity to sounds, they also frustrate because the end product bears little relationship to the music to which the children listen and relate. The great strength of these creative movements, of which the Schools Council ‘Music in the Secondary Curriculum’ under the direction of Dr. John Paynter was the most recent and the most influential, was their attempt to democratize music education – insisting that music was for everyone – but because there was so little relationship between ‘school creative music’ and the music of the ‘real world’ in the minds of children, a gulf was set up which was very difficult to bridge, and actual MUSICALLY meaningful creativity was minimal.

Music education’s basic problem, and one which the visual arts, drama or dance do not have to do anything like the same extent, is that of the difficulty of CONTROLLING THE MEDIUM, for whilst Betty Edwards (4) can suggest that if you can write your name you can draw, and language and movement are part of our everyday lives, the skills needed to control the medium of music – sound, and the various parameters of pitch, rhythm, timbre and texture, together with the conceptual and aesthetic skills involved in that control – are very difficult and time consuming to develop, which is where microtechnology can help. There are now a growing number of musicians who are using microelectronic technology, including computers to “control the medium” in creating their own music. They do so because the use of computers, synthesisers, sequencers and other devices, allows them to create melodic, rhythmic and textural passages far beyond the abilities of even the most accomplished performer, and to shift, change and manipulate sounds in a way never before possible. Although some performance skills are still necessary, imagination, sensitivity and the ability to mentally “image” the sounds, textures and structures of music are far more important than the ability to read music or perform complex passages as a solo performer. The music of these composers – “serious” as well as “pop” and “popular” – is music for and about the contemporary world in which the young people we teach in schools exist – it is music to which they relate; perhaps the first step in re-assessing the role and function of music in schools is to accept this fact.

These kind of facilities are, however, no longer only the province of the expensive recording studio of the rich, famous and successful composer or songwriter; they are rapidly coming on to the general market, and microelectronic equipment, including computers, synthesisers, multi-track “studios” and allied equipment, are rapidly joining other forms of technology - hi-fi, videos etc. – in the home. Young people are quickly learning how to use this new equipment and are recognizing that music, so often projected as the province only of the elite few, or the academic, skilled and musically literate performer, and as having a function only to re-created the music of others, is now open to anyone who does not necessarily have these academic or performance skills, or those ambitions, but who does have imagination, enthusiasm and a burning desire to express themselves, their contemporary world, and the way in which they relate to that world. We ignore this demand at our peril, for unless we satisfy it, music will be in danger of losing its place in the curriculum altogether.

Broadly speaking microelectronic developments in music at the moment fall into three categories. Firstly there are computers, which can do musical things, including personalised instruction. Secondly what are called “dedicated computers” which, to all intent and purpose look like musical instruments but which are, in fact, computers dedicated to the specific task of making music. Lastly there are a whole range of microelectronic devices, keyboards, effects pedals, drum machines, delays etc. etc. which, although not computers, often owe a debt to computer technology. Already, however, these boundaries are becoming blurred.

All schools have, or will have, at least one computer in them which has the potential for music education, and computer-controlled, programmable sound generators are now both cheap and easily connected to even the most basic microcomputers. Using computers in music education is no new thing. As far back as 1959, when costs were high, the University of Illinois began its PLATO project. Today the University of Delaware Music Department has eight PLATO terminals used for approximately 16,000 hours if teaching on the core music curriculum. At EDGE HILL, and at other colleges, universities and schools, as well as many homes, computer programs are beginning to be used to teach and develop music reading and performance skills, aural discrimination, intervals, chords, melodic patterns, rhythm and harmony in addition to factual aspects such as musical form, history, repertoire, terms and expressions and so on. Self, or small-group instructional programs are very efficient and motivating and work at the speed of individual students without the pressure of personality clashes. More import, in the long-term, however, is the potential of the computer as a creative tool for the processing and shaping of sounds. The EDGE HILL APPLE-based MOUNTAIN HARDWARE music system with a SOUNDCHASER keyboard and TURBOTRAKS software can use up to sixteen digital “oscillators” to create a single sound, the waveform sound-envelopes of which can then be displayed on a video screen, or, up to sixteen “tracks” for multi-recording on what is, virtually, a sixteen-track recorder. Although it may sound complicated, the computer, which will also print out music manuscript, use alternative scales or tunings and transpose, change instrumentation, speed or dynamics at the touch of a button, is simple enough to be used, with a little help, by non-specialist students on creative arts courses, and even by primary school children.

Dedicated computers are often called ‘synthesisers’. The synthesisers of a few years ago used electronic oscillators to produce sounds in a way analogous to music instruments – hence ANALOG. Modern synthesisers are DIGITAL, ie. they use numbers like computers, or, sometimes a mixture of ANALOG and DIGITAL techniques. The great advantages of digital systems are speed (computers handle numbers at the rate of more than a thousand-million-a-second) and, as a result, immense controlling power to process sounds, and very high quality sound reproduction including, in some cases, the ability to “sample” the sounds of instruments across their range of tonal qualities (or for that matter any other acoustic sound you chose) and reproduce, not just an electronic version of an original sound, but the “actual” sound. Their real strength, however, is the ability to create, literally, an infinite variety of sounds which have never before existed, and giving the composer/performer the control to alter, shape, mix, move and modify at will.

The third category of microelectronic devices which include the small electronic keyboards now so much in evidence, is, perhaps the one which, initially at least, has the most potential for music education. A far cry from the “electronic organs” of a few years ago, these new keyboards use computer technology, which makes available a wide range on control possibilities. In 1981 the music industry was stunned by the appearance of the little CASIO VL-TONE which, at a fraction of the price of a glockenspiel or a xylophone, represented a massive technological breakthrough with its VLSI (very large scale integrated) circuit enabling it to produce a variety of rhythms, instrumental voices, the ability to record and play-back, to input a tune without rhythm (ie. out of “real time”) and add the rhythm later by tapping on a single key, even to control the “envelope” of a waveform – all this and a calculator too! From then on there has bee a major explosion in the field, and small and relatively cheap keyboards and other forms of instruments and other tone qualities (some using sampled digital sounds) can be programmed to play chord progressions, add arpeggios or other sequences, variations and rhythmic “riffs’, can record layers of sound like a multi-track recorder, display music graphically or in notation, transpose, play along with you, play games with you, add countermelodies automatically, suggest suitable harmonisations, with alternatives, and then write out the completed piece in music notation!

Programmable electronic keyboards, synthesisers, drum machines and many other devices – still only developmentally in their infancy in terms of both sound quality and control – are beginning now to give musicians the freedom and the control they have always lacked. It is like, in visual terms, being presented with an infinite palette of tonal “colours” and any conceivable material and the means of having total control to manipulate, shape and modify them in any imaginable way. Even visual artists have never had this kind of freedom.

Not only the composer, however, will benefit from the new musical technology, performers too will be able to achieve rare more with limited skills; an aspect which is particularly important to the non-specialist school teacher who can now, with very limited skills, provide rhythmically accurate, exciting pre-programmed or spontaneous accompaniments to songs or pieces and stimulate children to improvise, compose and create accompaniments for themselves. At EDGE HILL ALL primary specialist students, not just those taking a music option, are given “hands on” experience, albeit limited, of a variety of microelectronic aids to music making in the classroom and are encouraged to use them in schools. Many schools are now acquiring these instruments themselves, finding them more versatile, more stimulating, and cheaper to both to buy and to maintain that conventional instruments.

 

The world is going to be – indeed already is – a very different place from the one we came into. The last five years have seen dramatic changes – the next twenty are likely to see major ones. Whatever changes there might be one thing is certain; music has gained a new freedom. No-one would suggest, of course, that the joy, satisfaction and challenge which many of the traditional roles of music give, including singing, instrumental instruction, group performance and the study of language and literature, will not continue, but attitudes, aims and objectives and organizational procedures in the classroom will have to be re-assessed and re-valued. This, in part, will involve coming to see music as essentially a PRODUCTIVE, “making” art-form with an important role in the reality of today’s world, rather than, as is so often the case now, as merely a REPRODUCTIVE, “performing” skill more concerned with the past so that what Robert Witkin calls: “the most immediate and expressive of all the arts” should not longer be; “the most separated from immediacy and expression within the teaching situation”. Inevitably this will involve music educators in learning a whole new set of skills and attitudes.

Ray Hammond, in his book: “The Musician and the Micro”, forecasts that, “within ten years most music will start in the mind, and the computer, which is getting cheaper and more powerful all the time, with create what we hear. It will still be human music because it comes from human inspiration, but there’s a new means of translating thought into action......what is really profound in the revolution is the shift in emphasis which will follow; a SHIFT FROM THE PERFORMER TO THE COMPOSER”. This, and the changes in viewpoint and training which it implies, is the major challenge for music educators in the latter part of the twentieth century. But this will be no new world of music; rather a restoration of old values; putting music back into its rightful place as the most powerful, profound, relevant and accessible of all the art forms.

REFERENCES:

THE MICROELECTONICS REVOLUTION – Ed. Tom Forester.Pub: Basil Blackwell (1980) p.xiii

FUTURE SHOCK – by Alvin Toffler.Pub: Pan (1970) p.21

BIOFEEBACK AND THE ARTS – Ed David Rosenboom.Pub: Aesthetic Research Centre for Canada (1976) p.21 DRAWING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BRAIN – by Betty Edwards. Pub: Fontana/Collins (1979)

THE INTELLIGENCE OF FEELING – by Robert Witkin (1975) Pub: Heinemann Ed p.122

THE MUSICIAN AND THE MICRO- by Ray Hammond.Pub: Blandford (1983) p.17



‘TOWARDS NEW DEFINITIONS IN MUSIC EDUCATION’ (1986) 

Tony Crimlisk 

Head of Music at Edge Hill College of Higher Education, Lancashire 

Paper presented at the conference:

‘New Perspectives in Music – New Tasks for Music Education’

July 6-12 1986, Innsbruck, Austria

The 1960s saw a spate of sentimental Songs based on definitions; ‘What is a mother?’, ‘What is a son?’ and so on, from which followed a series of spoof versions which firmly put in their place such arrogant attempts to quantify the unquantifiable.  Yet definitions are important. Words alone, what Goethe called “semantic rafts on which men float ideas”, are inadequate unless defined and clarified, especially as meaning changes, often substantially, through variations of attitude, circumstance and the vicissitudes of time. A word like “awful” for example, meaning originally “full of awe”, now means exactly the reverse or “Dreadful” - a word itself originally meaning “full of dread”!  “Pathetic” is another word which has totalAly changed its meeting from the sublime to the beneath contempt. The changes applied not only to evaluatory words, but also to words of fact like “matinée” - originally from “matins”, a morning song, is now translated by twelve hours to the afternoon. To listen to a “dreadful matinée performance of Beethoven's pathetic sonata” may, or may not, be an “awful” experience, but linguistically it's quite a confusing one! The word ‘musician’, as it relates to music education in primary and secondary schools, is also a word which, I believe, is now due for redefinition particularly in the light of recent developments in technology and changes in Society.

What is a ‘musician’?  The most likely definition is,  ‘one who performs music’.   ‘Proper musicians’, however, can also read and write music notation, know something of the history and repertoire of Western music and have a good grasp of music theory. Unfortunately a diet based on these aspects has not entirely met with universal approval from the majority of young people in schools, and comparatively few seem willing or able to become ‘proper’ musicians in that sense.   Accordingly school music teachers have tended to divide their task between the top few who have the ability and motivation to learn to perform well and/or pursue music as an academic subject, whilst satisfying a collective professional conscience for the rest with programs involving listening, massed singing and the use of technically simple “educational” instruments for what is called ‘creative work’, plus a variety of information based activities capable of being quantifiably assessed within an examination system, to give a simulated academic status.   Choirs, bands and orchestras gain prestige for the school, using those with performing skills, but in a totally controlled and conformist way. ‘Bandwagons’, methods and gimmicks abound, but essentially young people have rejected music in schools regarding it, according to the much-quoted Schools Council ‘Enquiry One questionnaire as, bar none, the “most boring and useless subject on the time table”.

The problem seems largely one of definition. For young people in schools music is an exciting contemporary world of sound in which they are heavily involved, devoting to it a great a great deal of time, energy and money. Specialist music teachers however are aware of the long processes of training, of things that need to be learned and understood before ‘proper’ music can be played, of the need to keep the subject respectable in the eyes of colleagues, parents and society in general, of the examination syllabus (which will only ever be tackled by a few), and most of all of the many the many practical difficulties and the need to keep control. The golf seems unbroachable - the irony intense!

Other arts, seemingly, have less of a problem, and music teachers, doubtless succeeding with a minority but nevertheless sensing failure with the rest, look with envy at other arts subjects which seem to attract more pupils and/or satisfied needs and aspirations in a way in which music somehow fails.  Maybe the “grass on the other side of the fence is always greener”, nevertheless music does seem to have a problem basically in the fact that the medium of music - sound - is a very difficult one to learn to control.   The skills, aural, conceptual and physical, involved in producing and manipulating musical sounds are, by their nature, more difficult than those involved in controlling the various materials of the visual arts, language, drama or dance.   In art, for, example we are used to handling marks on paper - we do it in learning to write - and physically a paintbrush requires little more in the way of psychomotor skills than a pen.   Again we use language, move and speak in daily life.   The various materials of the visual arts can also be seen and handled - sound cannot. As a result art education, at least once a 1930s, has been able to concentrate efforts on making works, using contemporary techniques, direct observation and developing imagination, visual imaging, a sense of balance and style, colour, harmony, form and structure relating the subject to the real world of experience, and allowing technical expertise to follow, rather proceed, these aspects. Music education, in contrast, has tended to take as its central concern the development of technical control and literacy - the PRODUCTION of music rather than the MAKING of it - and has based its activities, for technical and practical reasons, on teacher-dominated group activities with little opportunity for relevant and original musical response or problem-solving on an individual basis - other than for select few.  For those few the ‘Young Musician of the Year’ syndrome has taken over (and I believe got out of hand) giving ever higher esteem to ever greater performance skills but at the expense of the vast majority of pupils, and highly damaging to music as a curriculum subject in schools, producing an almost unbridgeable gulf, within the system, between those who can, and those who can't ‘do’ music.

In art, drama, dance and language children learn to manipulate and control materials in order to explore their properties, ‘play’ with their organisation and relationships, and use them to express feelings about themselves, their world and the relationships between them. In doing so they develop skills, craftsmanship, understanding, sensitivity and an awareness of the richness of their heritage. This approach - the conviction that children can be artists and writers and their own right - caused much controversy when first suggested.  Is the idea that children could and should be essentially, centrally, composers any less feasible?   I believe not, especially if we take advantage of the recent developments in micro technology which makes ‘the control the medium’ very much easier.   First however we need a new definition of ‘musician’ not as a ‘performer’, but as a ‘maker’ of music and a readjustment of  priorities and attitudes to give an emphasis to the development of aural skills, aural ‘imaging’ and imagination, together with what might be call ‘auracy’ -  ie. an understanding and awareness of the properties and construction of sound in the same way that literacy and numeracy relate to the understanding and awareness of the properties and structuring of language or numbers.

Developments in micro technology in music over last decade have been nothing short of revolutionary. Musicians now have at their disposal a virtually infinite range of sound ‘colours’, together with the ability to control and modify them on a wide range of parameters. The use of micro- controlled sound sources, synthesizers, drum machines sequencers both digital and tape-based multi-track recorders, means that sounds can be manipulated with comparative ease, memorizing, controlling, blending and mixing them with a minimum of performance skills (though a maximum of musical ones) in much the same way that an artist is able to control, mix and blend the lines, colours and textures of the visual world.   Never before has so much musical potential been within the grasp of so many.

Music has always made great use of technology to produce and control sounds. The organ, violin, piano and clarinet, for example, are all products of high technology and it is therefore surprising that musicians and music educators have not welcomed more enthusiastically the the new technology of microelectronics which offers so much, or sensed the significant changes in possibilities which it implies. Those who have seized the opportunities offered are the young people in our schools who are buying electronic and micro-controlled equipment, and learning how to use it creatively, at an unprecedented rate. They look towards schools for support, opportunities, guidance and above all recognition.   We, as music, educators must respond.

What form should that responds take? First, music must be accepted as a subject appropriate to all pupils. From this follows the recognition that performance skills in themselves have less importance than the uses to which they are put. The self-motivated development of aural abilities, discrimination, selection, imagination and craftsmanship in songwriting, arrangement, the building of instrumental pieces or ‘sound structures’ must be seen as having equal, if not greater, esteem than the mere reproduction of the musical ideas for others, especially when essentially controlled by the teacher. We should, after all, think very little of an artist capable only of re-creating the paintings of another! Music reading, useful and desirable though it is, is not a prerequisite for making music - many cultures have no written notation at all!  The imaginative composer or improviser who can't read should not be made to feel inferior to the first class player/sight-reader unable to write a song or improvise a twelve bar blues. There needs to be more research to develop classroom/studio programs using melody, harmony, texture and colour imaginatively on individual, as well as a group basis, utilising the now widely available, and relatively cheap resources for sound-synthesis, computer-controlled and multi-track recording, together with acoustic instruments and voices. The essential change Is one of focus, with improvisation, composition and arrangement (using the musical vernacular and contemporary models) being seen central, rather than peripheral, to music education and other aspects, for example listening, repertoire, performance skills and theory, developing naturally from them.  Important too is accepting the relationship between music in the classroom and music in the real world of work and play encouraging diversity individualism and de-mystification. Non-musical, socio-historical aspects of music, however ‘with it’ must be recognised as been just that – non-musical – an adjunct to the primary activity of music-making, but not a substitute for it!

One fundamental difference between art and music is that pictures can be instantly displayed providing satisfaction, feedback and motivation. Music, existing as it does in time rather than space, presents a problem!   With this in mind, and in order to positively encourage what I believe is a wealth of untapped and un-catered for creative talents in schools, I began, in 1979, to organise an annual Northwest Schools Songwriting Competition.  The results have been very encouraging with a significant number of original, powerful, and in some cases very moving, songs being entered. The winners supervise a recording of their song in a professional studio. Significantly, most entries come from individuals rather than school music departments. There is now I believe the burning need for more regional, national and international competitions for children's compositions, songs and instrumental music, for theatre, film or television - set up in liaison with educational institutions and the Music Industry - to provide an outlet and an incentive for much talent at present un-channeled and un-recognised.

Nothing in this short paper should be taken the attacking the good work in music education, which has been, and is being, done in many schools and in many parts of the world. Nor I am I suggesting that the challenge of learning performing skills and the joy of playing and singing with others will ever die. But I do believe that our sense of balance and our perspective of intrinsic musical values has become distorted to the point where we value the re-creator more than the creator, and the effort more than the achievement, causing a split between the so-called ‘musical’ and the rest. The contemporary world of professional music belies this. Maybe music is too important to be left to the musicians?

But then, exactly what is a ‘musician’?

 

 

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