Adult re-learners: how do you rate your K-12 music education?
I have a question for adult re-learners. This is especially for those who first learned to play as part of a school strings class.
Have you ever felt cheated by your K-12 music education?
My orchestra class was largely learning to play by ear. Yes, we discussed terminology and technique briefly, but now that I recall, the lessons weren't intensive. We were given sheet music and it was expected for us to just play it and be decent sight readers at that.
This thought came to me as I was going over my old sheet music. I realized that we were essentially playing copy cat with the instructor instead of learning the why of what we were doing.
Have any other re-learners gone through this epiphany of sorts? Does music education begin in the college level?
I'm not a relearner, and I didn't do strings in school, but I am happy to share my experiences with public school music education in my hometown, the largest city in it's province.
Ha. We may be in the same age range re: dancing the Macarena at school. Our music education was learning the recorder and then in 5th grade there was a strings class that was severely under-funded. I think that's part of the issue. The strings teachers were always tired and harangued from shuffling between two to four different schools.
I know this isn't exactly what you're for (in the fact that I'm currently in K-12 music education) but I thought it might be interesting to share what music education is like now.
Unfortunately for me, growing up in Los Angeles and part-time in a small town in Texas, music programs in public schools were non-existent until you got to Middle or Highschool. Even then, they only offered limited instruments with strings programs either being small or dismantled. So, yes, in many ways, I felt cheated by the public music education because it was through school that I could have come to music earlier if it had only been available. Besides that, I have many friends who even after a long public music education still played at an intermediate level when they reached college age. They also felt cheated. It seems if one wants to reach a super high level in music, it may be that private lessons and involvement in string camps, competitions and community youth orchestras is the way to go -- definitely should not be reliant upon the public school system itself.
Another option is community music schools. They offer great private instruction plus a multitude of classes and ensembles you can partake in. In my last year of elementary school, everyone was forced to learn a wind instrument, so I did. We were fortunate to have an excellent band teacher, who trained us both technically and musically. By the end of the year, we could play simple band songs and could play around ten notes. In high school, you received very little technical assistance from the teacher because the teacher does not understand every instrument inside out, though the way the band sounds is key. Depending on the teacher, high school students can get amazing opportunies like band trips, performing in concerts, and sitting in on college band rehearsals.
You don't have to have learned in public school to have learned poorly. I'm living proof. I had private lessons from the age of 5 to 17 and when I restarted 25 years later I discovered all kinds of things I had never been taught properly. My new teacher took me back to Suzuki book 4, rebuilt my vibrato from scratch, and taught me (finally!) how to actually play in tune. Not that my intonation is wonderful now, but at least I know how to tell.
I guess I'm going to shock you guys when I say that my music education program in a non "music dedicated" public school in West Virginia was downright awesome. I graduated high school in 2000 and started with actual music lessons in 5th grade. In 5th I played the clarinet before switching to the alto sax in 6th through 10th and occasionally playing the baritone spaced in between. 5th through 8th was basic band class. We learned how to read notes, scales, and techniques to build how well we played. Once I hit high school I was in a band that was concert for half the school year and marching for the other half. Our instructors helped us learning better musical abilities and we were graded on how well we knew how to play the pieces of music we were assigned. I also took music theory class and our final grade was based on writing a piece of music for the concert band to play. I was also in pep band. There was a Jazz band that was best in the state. We traveled to Florida twice, along with other places to compete. Our marching band took a one week each year to a band camp at a college that was semi local where we had 3-4 practice sessions a day to learn the routines and the music. We had over 150 people in our marching band. I have to say it was an incredible experience. My music teachers were good at what they did and left a lasting impression on me.
I had music starting in 1st grade, we picked our instruments in the third (or fourth) grade, then played through 8th grade with said instrument. I did not play in 7th or 8th grade due to scheduling conflicts with my orchestra, it was really hard for me to go not play for those two years. When I picked back up again in the 9th grade, I was so behind everyone else I had to practice every day for 2+ hours after school to get caught up. By 11th grade I was ahead of 85% of the other violinists.