Within schools there will always be a number of pupils for whom music holds little attraction. I’m not for a moment suggesting that we try to convert them into musicians, but I do believe all pupils should be given a chance to find out more about music. You only have to turn on the television on a Saturday night nowadays to find one or more talent shows trying to find the next greatest singer or band.
Learning environment more important
Through my many business activities today, I talk to a lot of people who, as soon as I mention the business of digitally recording a choir or band in schools, start telling me stories of how they were forced to play the recorder at school and have never played or been involved with music since! However, the point here is not so much the notion of playing the recorder or even the quality of the teaching. It’s how the learning takes place.
To really make music effective in schools, I believe it’s important to focus on group activities. Out in the 'real' world the majority of music is performed through a team effort. The most obvious examples are choirs, orchestras, bands, string quartets, and so on.
As such, when we promote the idea of schools making a CD, one of the first pieces of advice I will give teachers is to always try to get as many pupils as possible on the CD. From a practical purpose, this will of course make it easier to sell the discs to more parents. This in turn makes the whole thing more cost effective, and therefore a good way of helping the school to raise funds. But, more importantly, I do believe music is a way to bring people together. Making a school CD or recording is just one way of doing this and very much involves a team effort.
A school recording is something that pupils and teachers can be proud of and will also become a great promotional item, not just for the school's music department but for the concept of group activities as a whole. Let’s face it, a high percentage of business people’s CV’s or job applications will, at some point, include the phrase “good team player”. There will always be many ways of being part of a team, but let us not forget that music offers one such opportunity, and their time at school presents an excellent opportunity to experience it; even if later in life they go on to become accountants, lawyers or MPs!
Photo credit: Paul Schultz