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#1387083 The Place of Music

Posted by Aquarelle on 22 October 2020 - 09:28

Last Friday a teacher in France was murdered. He has been decribed in the British press as a history teacher but that is not quite accurate.  Here history,  geography and civics are taught as an amalgum of subjects. The particular lesson he was giving to a class of 13 to 14 year olds was in the context of the civics module and the subject was freedom of expression. He was not teaching outside the syllabus and he gave students who did not wish to see the cartoons he had brought as support the opportunity not to see them.

 

The ways in which different countries deal with the difficult and delicate questions, particularly in the field of the philosoply of education. For complex historical reasons the French have chosen to deal with these problems by what is known here as « laicité. » I think the nearest term to that in English is « secularity .» The idea is that school is a place where  every one puts aside their religious beliefs and takes part in a common curriculum aimed at teaching the younger generation about citizenship. In other words there is a secular and neutral umbrella over all differences and children are taught about a wide variety of ways at looking at the world, in the hope that as adults they will be equipped to use this knowledge. Everyone has the right to decide for themselves what religion or philosoply will be the basis for their way of life. This decision can only be based on a wide educational experience and not on any form of obscurantism.

 

Over the past 20 years there has been an increasing amount of interference in the school syllabus by parents and activists who have their own axe to grind. In order not to cause uncomfortable waves of indignation and not to have to assume their responsiblitites the  educational heirachy has not supported teachers who have found themselves unable to teach certain parts of the syllabus because of the active resistance of pupils and parents. In the classroom teachers are in difficulty with history,  general science, biology, physical education, art and music. Some teachers have been hassled and some have even received death threats . So far, when asking their superiors for help they have been told to be quiet, to self censor and to go away. Anything to avoid controversy and to have a quiet life. This is now likely to change.

 

I watched the hommage to Samuel Paty at the Sorbonne yesterday. I found it very moving. Hence my post. My personnal conclusion is that as a teacher of music it is my duty to put in front of the children and young people   I teach the positive aspects of the arts, and in particular of music. It is not up to me to tell them what to think or what to believe. But it  is up to me to teach them  to think and to give them the tools with which to reason. The humanities, of which music is a large  part should be taught to all children. The wider their base of knowledge the more freedom they will have.

 

If you say prayers may I ask you to remember Samuel Paty’s family  and in particular the five year old little boy who will never see his father again. If you do not say prayers  may I ask you to think of this family with compassion. I think we should also not forget the two young boys who helped the murderer to recognise the teacher as he left the school. If they knew what they were doing then we must hope that they will learn differently. If they didn’t fully understand the consequences of their action then they will need help to learn to live with that.

 

Each of us has our particular philosophy of musical education. I find myself having once more to remember that in a very small way I am responsible for bringing  musical beauty beauty into the lives of children and trusting that it will  do its humanising work. I just think that is what it’s all about.


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#1371469 How to word it ?

Posted by edgmusic on 08 November 2019 - 21:55

Sad that ma non troppo's interesting question has developed in such an unfortunate way as the posts have progressed.

I thought this forum was set up for 'teachers helping teachers'
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#1371457 How to word it ?

Posted by ma non troppo on 08 November 2019 - 20:49

As a learner, I would prefer a teacher afford me the most basic of courtesies of being honest as to why he or she would not wish to have me as pupil.  If there is nothing sinister underpinning your reasoning, e.g. contravening the Equality Act 2010, and have articulated this clearly and logically then surely you have nothing to worry about. 
 
The best outcome would to be constructive: explain why you cannot teach them and provide them with alternative solutions, such as another possible teacher or changes to their behaviour that would allow you to take them on as a pupil.
 
In another thread, a teacher was going on about music teachers not being treated seriously as other Professions.  To me, you do yourself no favours by acting unprofessionally: one of the core characteristics of a professional is integrity; being honest. Condoning and advocating blatantly lying about lack of spaces and waiting lists is not acting professionally, quite the opposite.


I really don't know where to begin with this except to say that this is stunningly naive view. I know I have not given any details as to why I won't take this student on, (wise on an open forum) but surely it doesn't take much imagination to realise that honesty is not always the best policy. All I can say is that you are thinking like a student here, not as an experienced teacher or professional who works on a one to one basis in their own private studio.
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#1371479 Grooming in an Unregulated Profession

Posted by BadStrad on 09 November 2019 - 11:35

Regulation would be as pointless and expensive as DBS checks. All it tells you is that person X hasn't been charged with doing Y. It encourages mistrust and paranoia and the idea that everyone is potentially guilty until proven innocent by some slip of paper.
The DBS (CRB as was) system was not designed to clear individuals as "suitable" for work with vulnerable groups but to remove those who pose a known risk.

Take the Soham murders of the two little girls. DBS checks wouldn't have stopped that as the murderer knew the girls through his girlfriend not his job.

Yes of course there is the argument that "honest people have nothing to fear" but why should they have to pay for a useless piece of paper and probably some membership fee of some "professional body" (like the GTC) which gives very little in return.
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#1371444 How to word it ?

Posted by Norway on 08 November 2019 - 17:17

Totally agree about not giving a reason. Don't open the can of worms. If someone has reached adulthood without learning how to behave, then that's not your responsibility. Also stick with e-mail for communication - phoning can be tricky with those who won't take no for an answer.


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#1346725 Completely gutted

Posted by susiejean on 19 January 2018 - 09:33

RESULT!!!!

A very nice man gave me his email address and allowed me to scan him in a completed form.

Phew. woot.gif


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#1270435 Best enquiry questions

Posted by Bantock on 07 October 2014 - 08:01

Phone rings in middle of lesson...

'Oh hello'
'Can you tell me who wrote Götterdämmerung '
'Er Wagner'
'OK thanks'
'Why do you need to know?'
'It's a crossword clue. I saw your name in yellow pages as a music teacher and thought you might know.'

Resumes lesson...
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#1399022 Message from corenfa

Posted by cor_en_fa on 12 October 2021 - 08:27

Looks like I've been resurrected?

I'm really touched to know that people missed me!
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#1370412 This forum is becoming depressing - post happy stories about teaching

Posted by Aquarelle on 08 October 2019 - 12:53

Nine years ago one of my boy pupils sat the one and only Trinity exam I have ever entered a pupil for - Grade 6 Piano. It was the usual story of not being able to do Grade 5 theory in time for AB G6 practical. His parents arranged for him to go to Spain to take the exam as there is no Trinity centre here - sadly they no longer operate in northern Spain  either. The pupil then went on to other things and I thought that was probably as far as his music would go.

 

In the supermarket yesterday a man tapped me on the shoulder and said "Excuse me, are you .....?" I said I was but didn't recognize him. He was, in fact the father of the aforesaid pupil. We had quite a long chat and it turns out that his son has never stopped playing and is now back in England playing  keyboard and other instruments with various popular music groups and making his living from music. You honestly never know what seeds you have sown. I was particularly pleased to hear that the young man appreciated his "classical" time with me as this gave him a good basis for other styles. It would be nice if more felt like that - I've just lost two brothers  who decided youtube would be "easier". I have been unable to convince them that a thorough grounding in reading and understanding music would take them a lot further. Well, you can't win 'em all but I was delighted to catch up on one pupil's news! :) 
.


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#1369341 student discontinuing lessons

Posted by Dorcas on 14 September 2019 - 09:04

 

Adultpianist, I have sent texts, and they have not got through.  In fairness to your teacher, I think you need to assume they are telling they truth.  Ending lessons can be awkward for several reasons.  From the teacher's point of view, you are only one bad review online from going out of business.  I had a defamatory review a few years ago, and it seriously impacted on my income.   I had the review taken down, and hey presto, all slowly improved.  That review cost in me in the region of £20K.   Your teacher has no idea if you are going to turn nasty, are just moving on, or going to work with another teacher.  Being neutral is often the safest approach, as it can avoid serious fallout.  

 

You have decided to finish lessons.  Your teacher has accept this.  Time to move one.

why would I turn nasty.  That is not in my nature.   I have no reason to turn nasty.   I was taught some very good techniques which I put into practice and I am thankful for that.   I genuinely do not have the time to pursue lessons at the moment and that is the reason and that is what I told her.   If I have no time to pursue lessons why would I go on to another teacher because I would be in the same position (no time for lessons).   My job has become increasingly busy and if I try to fit in flute as well I would be running myself into the ground and would be mentally and physically ill.   I genuinely want to learn the flute but when I started , my job was less busy.    As I said I will continue to practice at home as and when I can to keep things ticking over.  Obviously I am not skilled enough to try new things but at least I can practice what I have been taught and improve on that for now

 

Your instrumental teacher has not spent that much time with you, and cannot be assured of your true personality.  I am not saying any of this to personally attack you, just trying to get you to see why your teacher reacted the way she did.

 

Your reasons for stopping are perfectly valid.  What I do think was unnecessary, was to imply your teacher lied when she said she did not receive the text.  When I send out texts asking my students to pay their fees, I accept it if they tell me the message did not get through.  To be frank, Adultpianist, you have come on here asking advice, followed it, it worked, and now you are criticising your teacher for not being effusive enough when you gave notice.  I am going to call you out on this, I think you are in fact being remarkably unkind, and your teacher was correct to be neutral.  You have decided to stop lessons, have given notice, and now prefer to believe your teacher is a liar who did not pay you enough compliments.  Stop whining.

 

edit: just come back to read this thread, have decided to put the boot in more often, folks on here seem to like it, crikey!! :ninja:


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#1291815 What's Made You Happy Today.... ?

Posted by Maizie on 28 May 2015 - 15:36

A benign meningioma.

Essentially, if you had to pick a type of brain tumour to have, it's the one you'd choose.  And it's what I've got!

 

Future discussion will take place with a radiologist about whether to treat now or monitor and treat later if necessary (there are good arguments either way) - but it's all suddenly gone very relaxed and non-urgent (growth being ~1mm per year).

 

I'm really looking forward to a good night's sleep tonight...the 27 days since the 'you have a brain tumour' phone call have been somewhat intense!

sleep-058.gif


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#1382644 Grade 5 theory

Posted by zwhe on 18 July 2020 - 11:45

Are they serious? We are expected to get children to:

Find an empty room without clutter.

Send all family away in case they make any noise

Buy soundproofing if (like me) they live in a noisy area

Buy a laptop/desktop computer, desk and webcam

Go in the room on their own

Sit an exam watched by an adult who can 'webchat' with them

Have no access to adult support if they have any problems.

 

I'm pretty sure that wouldn't pass any risk assessment, even for the privileged few that can actually afford to do that! The online platform was clearly designed for professional development exams for adults in an office, not for children.


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#1372828 What's Made You Happy Today.... ?

Posted by maggiemay on 05 December 2019 - 20:20

I have just learned that my first piano teacher passed away last month. 

 

 I thought she should have a mention on the forums:  she was, after all,  my very first music teacher. 

And it makes me very happy that she reached the wonderful old age of 107. 

 

She was still teaching, and singing in her church choir well into her nineties. What an innings :-) 


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#1349489 New Data Protection Laws - GDPR - will affect us all. Here’s some help

Posted by ma non troppo on 19 March 2018 - 09:25

I intend to take no action and change nothing. I'll let you know if I am prosecuted. I'll post details of my 'go fund me' account when that happens. Don't hold your breath! ;)
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#1382016 Teaching in the modern world

Posted by Aquarelle on 01 July 2020 - 11:00

Adlibitum-yes im wondering if i should consciously 'brand' myself as a specialist in technique and have that slant. At the moment i think anything i write will come across as 'because these other people are all doing it wrong'! So poss best ti wait until my head is clearer! As for unqualified, i guess its the nagging feeling of not having a teaching qualification even though i know its not needed or indeed relevant to have a pgce. I also married into a family of professional musicians so i always feel lesser!

I am going to take a slightly different approach to your problem. I don’t have a web page and during the Covid confinement I have not been able to give on line lessons. I live in France not far from the Pyrenean foothills and internet connections are too slow. My teaching qualifications are not the top. I didn’t get into music  college so went to College of Education with music as my main study and left with a Teacher’s Certificate and, although we didn’t take the exam, what was then the equivalent of LRAM as far as piano was concerned. So I don’t think you can call yourself under qualified! I have been teaching for a very long time – just over 50 years – and I am still at it. Why? Because it’s so very enjoyable. This year I had 34 pupils aged from 6 to 18, several of whom have been with me for more than 10 years. Most of my pupils ceiling at Grade 5 but some do go on to Grade 6 and I have had one Grade 7. I don’t teach adults as I have found that I am not at all good with them. That gives you a rough idea of the base I am coming from in what I would like to say.

 

I am a stickler for  good standards and not dumbing down. but I am for adjustiment in teaching. Like everyone, I do lose pupils but it’s rare. And like everyone I have adolescent hormones to cope with, heavy school timetables to adjust to and the  very occasional unsupportive parent. Several of my pupils come from quite large families – I have one family where I teach 6 out of 8 children. 

 

In  the quote above you say you are wondering whether you should brand yourself as a specialist in technique and go in that direction. I don’t want to be hard on you our unkind, but  I wouldn’t go in that direction. Neither would  I follow the “become a genius in 3 lessons” or “just play for fun” routes. I think that with children and teenagers these days  the problem goes  much deeper than that. I’ll try not to be too wordy but I could write a book on it – it’s something that interests me greatly. You see, I think being a specialist in the love of, the passion for “classical” music, is much more important than being a specialist in technique. Pupils who have caught from you your love of music will  (eventually if not immediately) cotton on to the value of technical work. They will find that they can’t explore that love of music without the tools to do so. As one 18 year old recently said to me, as she struggled with a Chopin Nocturne (the fairly easy one in G minor) “I’ m finding this very difficult – but it is Chopin!”

 

As you say, with beginners it is fairly easy to get their enthusiasm. I like to take beginners on at the age of 6. They are fresh and curious and there is lots of good material available. I don’t worry too much about perfect hand positions and finger movements. I do, of course, show and encourage those things but the important thing is that they play, they enjoy and they want to move forward. It has to be very child centred. As they get older we start to think about an exam if I think it appropriate. I dislike the Prep Test but have used it. Grade 1 is very difficult for many young children and I’m looking forward to the new Initial Exam as I think it might suit my little ones. They love to have a certificate and we have to make it a positive and enjoyable experience. Some get there in a couple of years but most of my 6 year old starters need a good bit longer. In any case they all play at the end of year concert. Once we get to the Grade exams I go into top gear on how wonderful all this music is, how they can make poetry out of it, how it’s beautiful, balanced, strange, imaginative – whatever. We begin to look a little more closely at the technical skills required to get this love of music expressed and I make sure that scales and arpeggios are  great things to play. There are lots of ways to do that

.

By the time they are in their teens (and sometimes pre-teens) I am treading on tiptoe – or a better metaphor might be the iron hand in a velvet glove. I refuse to let up on standards but  for me and for them it’s the love of music that counts above all else. I enthuse about music all the time, in different ways because, after all, I am not in the business of producing brilliant professionals, but rather of music lovers who will eventually, in their adult lives either play for pleasure, take it up again when they retire or become avid concert goers - or send their own children for lessons. I want music to be a friend for life. And I am not averse to telling a child of any age, in terms appropriate to their age, that nothing in life which is really valuable happens without hard work. But you have to get them to love the work.

 

Young people these days are faced with a very different situation from the (prehistoric!) time of my youth. They are faced with the push button, on / off, instant result,superficial value stuff with which we never had to cope. I believe we need to lead them beyond that. I won’t go down the path of easy music for easy fun – or “only what I like.”

 

I have sometimes read poetry to my language classes. When I enthuse about the beauty of the words (and don’t insist they have to learn it by heart for a test next week) I get  different reactions. Some are embarrassed because it’s emotional, some are enthralled and some snigger. But the real result comes when a child tells you the following week that they have learnt the poem by heart because they liked it. OK, the other 24 haven’t – but you never know what seeds you have sown – and it’s the same with music. I have no idea if any of this helps in your situation   - I admit I get a bit carried away sometimes over this sort of problem. So I will now get off my soap box and wish you good luck! You are probably just going through a low patch and things will pick up.


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