I’m a great believer in doing ‘just enough’ filing – otherwise too much ruthlessness and organisation rules out the possibility of coming across lovely things by chance.
The summer half-term break usually finds me sorting out the Music Room boxes. I’d like to share a favourite treasure that always gets put back in the ‘to keep’ pile. It’s a letter sent by a teacher who attended a three day workshop I gave in Vänersborg, Sweden, a few years ago. It ends, “Excuse my really bad English but hope you could read my letter” – you will manage fine!
“…I especially like your way of thinking about to be an educator and how to treat the children… I think it could be little dangerous to have too polite children who always do what someone else tell them to do. Perhaps we have to help the children to think by themselves… I also like you thought that teaching music is very much about to give the children a music experience. Sometimes I feel to[o] much a teacher and that I forget to be a musician. I think every child have right to have lots of live music experience. An interesting thing is that researchers try to investigate what music is good for. For an example they can se[e] if children play an instrument they become good in mathematics. Well that is fine but I think it is obvious for me that we all need music just for music sake”.
It’s the last line that really hits home. This particular teacher has had good reason for ‘loving music for music’s sake’ in her own life.
When I look at my beginner pupils, what I want is that they will have lots of ‘music for music’s sake’, and try to provide an environment in which this can happen and develop naturally.
And the relevance of the picture? It was drawn recently by a little boy who wanted me to know what it feels like when he plays the cello. After a very gentle and carefully paced start - because he often comes to his lesson extremely stressed from a day at school - he has just begun to read music. Last week, unaided and with intense focus, he proudly managed to perform a whole duet with his sister. Hard to tell from his drawing which is boy and which is cello – they seem inextricably bonded. And yes, he is definitely a pupil who loves music for music’s sake.