5. To Teach or To Supply?
After years of preparation, my methodology has been worked out and polished. Entire classes can play freely on the piano, read notes, sing from sheet music and write down melodies! Yet it’s much harder to peak people’s interest in this than I expected. It took a colossal effort to entice the press to publicize my accomplishments! In the end, they barely understood what was happening. Naturally, these journalists are graduates of the schools that didn’t provide effective music lessons. To them, music education is an empty note. They don’t know much about music, and material about it is intimidating and uninteresting to them.
It came to such a point that I had to do ‘circus tricks:’ teach a child to play with both hands in 15 minutes on a live broadcast, or exhibit my three-year-old, even two-year-old students playing Bach! Yet, I couldn’t manage to gain much interest even from music professionals. I didn’t get a single phone call from a music educator! The conviction that music is only for the gifted and that only the chosen are to be worked with has become second nature to educators. To them, the idea of universal music literacy isn’t more than a pretty dream.
Nowadays, in acknowledgement of its own methodological weakness, music pedagogy has taken a stake in hardware and all types of material goods: instruments, equipment, and music accessories. They are allegedly capable of bringing music to the masses. Well, I can’t argue with one thing: tinkering with them is certainly pleasant. But even if you buy the most expensive grand piano for yourself and add all of the instruments of a symphonic orchestra to it, there is no guarantee that you’ll get music from them. Only a rare person with an inborn talent can play a thing or two without any sheet music. For the rest of us, it is essential to be able to read notes!
The musical literacy of people is the single indispensable force in the progress of music. At the same time, even if you buy an armful of textbooks and literature, your music competence won’t increase. Literacy comes from an effective method before anything else.
Millions of dollars could be spent on the newest equipment and instruments for schools, and for thousands of conventions and presentations. Six hours of music lessons could be held in school every week, and the school grounds could be piled up with tambourines and drums. But until we can teach every child to sing by notes and read from sheet music, to play songs with both hands, all of this money will be lost in the wind, just as it has been and continues to be. If money is to be invested, then it should be used for an effective method of teaching music not as an art, but as a language. And this should especially be done in public schools.