Music  -  

        Music is something most people apply at a basic level through singing and listening to it. The vast majority of the population never become musically literate. Developing musical literacy in common with language literacy provides learners with a greater understanding, feeling for the sounds of music and language, the detail of music and language forms.

       Whether music has comprehensible meaning  is open to philisophical debate. It now known that music is processed through the phonoligcal loop of working memory. Sloboda (1995) contended that there are many similarities between music and language development.

       Traditionally musical education concentrated upon listening to music and the performing music of others. It has been recognised that requiring learners to create music is a very effective means of providing them with more meaningful learning experiences that repeating music composed by others like 'parrots'. It requires learners to think through the sounds and forms of music that they create and will sing or play.


Instrumental Music Making

          Those who learn to play a musical instrument are required to engage in higher order musical making activities. It requires advanced physical psychomotor skills to be developed into fluency. Pianists need to coordinate both their hands to play music. They also are required to develop musical literacy if they are to become able to perform a whole range of music.

       Successfully playing a musical instrument requires multitasking, which makes vast demands upon working memory. Human beings are not very good a multi-tasking.

usic in terms of it form, how the music is structured, is very mathematical, but unfortunately those who created it, were not very good at maths. They got some of the maths wrong!

        This makes it music more difficult for difficult for musicians to understand than it needs to be.

 Rote Teaching 

        The graded music examinations have had a long history. Margaret Thatcher wanted their form to be applied for the National curriculum assessments, but they were rejected. This was because children devote most of their time mechanically preparing music for the examinations each year, as opposed to developing musical understanding.  

         The problem with instrumental playing is that it requires physical skills to be practised so they can be applied automatically applied with accuracy. Developing the ability to perform skills increases arm and fingering dexterity and strength. What happens is that children practice the same music so often to develop these physics skills, that they learnt the music by rote memorisation. Many never learn to interpret new music. 

       Many musicians were passing graded music examinations through memorising music by rote, as opposed to developing their sight reading skills, the ability to read music like a book. This limited the amount of music that they could play.

        Many children instrumental were learning a set of examination pieces each year. They were not developing well rounded musicianship.
 The more intelligent learners had the understanding to over come the limitation of the approach, others will not.   

     The problem has been most acute with pianists, who will rarely, perform with others. I recall an incident where a school appointed  a pianist with the L.R.A.M., which is an advanced qualification, but the teacher struggled to play hymn tunes in school assemblies. 

  It is unclear if this situation has changed.

Instrumental Instruction

       There are many talented instrumentalists, who believe that they have a God ' given right to teach, but William Salaman, who was a respected music H.M.I., once said that learning how to teach is a deep, if not deeper than the subject knowledge needed to teach it. 

       This situation also arises with Welsh speakers in Wales. Many a are giving lessons to earn pocket money. They are teaching by rote.

  Instrumental music and second languages are the most difficult subjects to teach in the curriculum. Mathematics is more difficult. The fact that learners pass 'mechanical skills graded tests' does not mean that they possess the applied capabilities the examination pass implies.

          The reason why the G.C.S.E. examinations were introduced in 1987 was because it was established that many children were learning second languages by rote, they were passing examinations, but they found unable to apply them.


       Instrumental music teaching remains in the Dark Ages. The evidence remains that  for too many children experience of playing a musical instrument is primarily preparing for graded examinations. Annual assessments places rigid control on the curriculum. It crates learning fences that children must jump over even if it is not in their best learning interests to do so. 

       The time appears long overdue when the graded music examinations dedicated themselves to serving children's learning  interest, as oppose to private teachers.

                    References - Further Reading



Music Memory 

       It has been established in York University, where Professor Alan Baddeley, who discovered working memory with Hitch works that music is processed thorough the phonological loop of working memory. This is the same loop that language phonology is processed.

          This suggests that listening to music whilst trying to generally learn is likely to cause cognitive overload, especially if something needs to be learnt aurally. This will depend on how much attention is given to the music.

       As a musician,  a viola playing, Howard find it very interesting that unlike language it is possible to listen to the same piece of music repeatedly, where it can feel as fresh when it being listen to say the 300th time as the 1st time. 

      Whilst it is not possible to recreate is a significant piece of music,  Howard finds it possible to anticipate what is coming in what he listen to

        It almost as if one has a whole repetoire of music, which is not possible to fully recover, but it is recreated when the live music provide cues for me to access it.

      Musical form is designed to be repetitively so listeners will remember the main

Reference - Further Reading

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