Groups of fast musical notes with a large legato arch over them on a music sheet, as part of  a classical piece

Today, I found myself in a class discussing gender performance and gender roles on musical instruments. I read a very interesting article by writer, musicologist and professor Suzanne Cusick and I presented my findings in class. In a lot of my classes, we are encouraged to participate, in fact attendance and participation in discussion is what earns marks. This level of engagement is fun, stimulating and fascinating… It made me think about how I could implement this into my work as a teacher.

Right now, I am half way through an essay on the relevance of teaching popular music in the context of secondary school education in Australia. I have consulted a number of sources, received a number of emails from experts who happen to be working in the music education department at my university… I’ve gotten lost in strong, rant-like writings on the lack of resources and funding in the public school sector, and I have decided to digress for a few moments – to take a break from this world of music education being a huge bureaucratic jungle where funding doesn’t exist, where communities have no support, and to think positively on how I could make the musical experience of my students richer and better…

The nice thing about private teaching is I don’t really have to deal with bureaucracy – I just have Alicia and she normally lets me do whatever I want to do. With older students (teenagers and adults) I find myself talking a lot about music in lessons… about its context and history. Discussing music is good – it’s engaging, it’s fun, it’s what I do in half of my classes. It makes you think about music in new dimensions.

It’s very stimulating to talk about music to teenagers and adults. The adults who I teach work in different fields (not music) and sometimes we get lost in interdisciplinary conversations on music and their field of expertise. With teenagers, they are starting to form their opinions and so we get lost in a world of – what they think, why they think that way… but of course talking burns teaching time, it’s productive but also counter-productive. So what do you do?

I thought about making a piano club for teenagers, and possibly one for adults. Once in every two months, we get together, and a team of us cook dinner – or order pizza, and in the lounge rooms of whoever the host is, we have dinner together and talk very openly about music and how it exists in different social contexts. Something casual but fun… after this – we all play to each other, a piece that we are all working on – so that performing becomes an experience that is enjoyable and fun.

By starting a piano club for older people – teenagers and adults, start a community. We make music a communal experience. We have interesting discussions on music, we listen and engage in music by performing it to others…

Whose up for this!?

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