Monday, November 10, 2008

Instrumental lessons in Schools

Instrumental teaching in Schools and especially in some ways the cello, is a waste of time! It is not how I always feel but when I have a day like I have had today that sentiment comes rushing to the forefront.

I started off in a Primary School this morning where the two prospective cellist (ha!) turned up with neither having done any practise and more depressing, they didn't care! The only excuse offered was “I forgot” and said in manner that was so indignant as to be almost totally dismissive of my question. When I told them just to pack up and that I would see them next week with some work done, their reaction was at first puzzled and secondly pleased that they didn't have to sit through my nagging and pryinThe next school was another Primary where the two girls hardly speak a word and do about as much work as well. When I told them I had to hurry and that they had to be back in class a half hour later they almost broke down! “Our teacher will moan at us!” “Why”, I asked. “ Because we will be back to early and she doesn't like it!” I then go on to enquire, “You mean your teacher complains if you come back early because you have not missed enough work and if you come back late she complains because you have missed too much work. Right?” “Right!” came the reply. My first thought was I should take this further and talk to the Headteacher. The after a couple of minutes I thought, why? He will only placate me and tell me he will speak to the teacher concerned but he will not because he will forget as it slips down the pecking order of things to do. If, however, I was to inform him that the instrumental lessons were being withdrawn because of lack of interest there would be a flurry of indignation and bending over backwards to accommodate my every need. That would however last for about 2 weeks and then back to the status quo.
I am sick, sick, sick of the attitude but still come back for more. All the schools are not like that and neither are the children but there is an ever increasing number of them who like the thought of cello in the school but the reality is something else.

The other news today regarding instrumental teaching in schools is the “Non-Touchy” type of teaching a musical instrument. This raises its ugly head every so often but now the Musicians Union have come out with a directive to the effect that you must never touch a child unless you previously ask permission. Ask permission to touch? Yeah!! “Please little girl, do mind if I touch your hand and then maybe hold your arm in order to make you hold and move the bow properly?” How is that for inserting a little thought into the girls head!? It is ridiculous. I will never give up the right to use my hands as well as my voice as a way of teaching children, or for the matter adults, how to play the cello properly. I wish in some of my schools I got that far!

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