This past weekend I hosted a recital called Before and After. I started with the question, “How did you sound when you first began piano and how do you sound now?” In the recital, each one of my kids played the first piece of music they ever learned, followed by a current piece of music.
I always try to develop ideas that show students a new perspective. Whether or not the students actually realized what I tried to show them, I have heard from parents about how interesting it was to hear other children ‘instantly’ improve.
The connected world we live in is a place where knowledge is abundant, it is easily accessible and growth is always accelerating. But for disciplines like music education, accelerating student growth is a challenge. Is that what we really want anyway?
Students growing up today are a part of a very fast-paced world where overnight success is sewn into their daily lives: teenage YouTube stars, Instagram models, and twenty year old tech billionaires are all real. Practicing a musical instrument for years as a way to grow seems ridiculous and dated.
Is instant gratification a challenge to overcome when teaching music?
I would say it is, but I also believe it depends on the families and students you teach as each one has a different story and world view. Learning music or any art for that matter, is about developing a perspective. What I hope to instill in my students is that they see how to solve problems creatively, to persist through that process, to communicate their passions and to have an opinion.
Recitals like “Before and After” show students that improvement happens, but it takes time. What really matters is the process and everything that happens in-between the before and after.
What abilities or perspectives will matter most when the children we are educating today become adults?
Will the abilities developed from learning music: persistence, problem solving, communication, creativity and passion even matter?