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Music lessons in schools

When I was at school (so many years ago that we wrote on clay tablets) it was common for children to take music lessons & learn to play an instrument at school. At my secondary school (high school) there were lots of instruments that the kids could use. They were mainly classical instruments, with guitar included. There were also several pianos available for use. There was also a pipe organ in the main hall, but only the elite musicians were allowed to use that.

Mine wasn't the only school providing those sort of facitlities. Practically every school in the area taught music and there were quite a few youth orchestras in existence.

The lessons weren't free and the instruments had to be hired if the kids wanted to take them home to practice, but the rates were very reasonable and certainly far less than would be paid elsewhere. This meant that even kids from lower income families had access to musical instruments and lessons. And not having the expense of buying an instrument meant they could try out different instruments to see which they liked best.

Years later, when my daughter was at school, the teaching of instruments in schools had all but stopped. Government cutbacks on education were largely responsible as schools couldn't afford to provide the instruments. From what I can gather, the situation is still the same.

It's not just teaching to play an instrument that has stopped. There are now very few schools at all where music is taught.

I think it's a real shame that schools no longer teach kids to play instruments. I have a friend who wants her two young sons to learn guitar but they would have to go to private lessons and the cost for two is prohibitive as she is a single mother.

There is now a crisis in the UK with orchestras as there are not enough musicians to fill the vacancies. I know for a fact that 3 years ago there was not a single grade 8 or above oboe player in the country apart from those already in orchestras. There are certainly far fewer classical guitar teachers around these days too.

My experience relates to England. I would be interested to know what it is like in other countries. Is music taught in schools were you live? Do schools provide instruments for kids to use?
When I was young we also had mandatory music classes to learn an intrument, and in later years we had Music Appreciation classes (also mandatory) here in the US. I guess the practice has been phased out here also due to budget cuts.

Given that I am not what anyone could claim is "Musically Inclined", I always failed to see the importance of a music education...unless of course a career in music is what you were after. I understand having a knowledge of the Arts is important, but how is learning an obscure music instrument at 7 years old against your will going to help anyone appreciate music or the arts?
well, we did have madatory music classes, but even worse.. we werent told to learn any music instrument, we were made to learn very very borrrring songs, and sing them! we even had an exam of music!!! but only till 5th grade...
My elementary school offered us choir classes pretty much every year, and then during the last year they'd offer us music lessons. We basically were told what instrument would be best for us to play (by the instructor) and then had to rent that instrument from a leasing company. However, back then I dreaded the thought of playing an instrument (because of how much practice is involved) and I opted for taking an art and language elective instead.

Biggest mistake of my life Sad I wish my mom had FORCED me to take up an instrument -- I know I would have enjoyed it in the long run.

But anyhow, yea, my old elementary school still works the same way (I know because my cousins go there) and it's sad to hear that some schools don't offer that kind of thing.
It would be nice if it were available, but it certainly shouldn't be forced.

Forcing it wastes lots of money on teaching kids things they don't want to know, and don't really [i]need]/i] to know...
I'd guess that 85% of the students would forget everything as soon as lessons were over, and 90% would never use it again.

It should still be available for that last 10% though.
i was lucky enough to get involved in a new program @ my middle school when i first switched to that school.. it was called a "keyboarding class," but it did not refer to computer keyboards.. instead it was an entire classroom with rows of piano keyboards. We would all go in and start practicing, and once a week we would move to the front row where the whole row was linked into the teachers piano that was at the front of the room. We could all hear each other and her, and we would all play together with the teacher commenting through a mic that ran into all of our headphones.. (everyone wore headphones). anyway, it actually worked fairly well, and most of us were able to play at a high to medium level within 3 years of lessons like that..... that was one of the things i am the most grateful for as far as school goes, because when i got into high school i figured out i had a natural ability to improvise on the piano and those 3 years of class lessons really helped me to become a fairly decent pianist.. granted i just do it as a hobby, but still if i didn't have the piano in my life, i would be a completely different person.......... so yes.. i think music definitely needs to be incorporated back into schools. i wouldn't mind paying for it through taxes and what not if there was some way the politicians could guarantee that my money was in fact being used to further music education... BUT we all know how that goes
Well at the elementary level they offer basic music, where you just pretty much only got to sing songs. You could do that or join choir, or orchestra. I was always a band geek myself, so I did the boring singing. lol

Then at the middle school level again there is choir and orchestra, but there is also band. Of course that's what I joined. (There's also theater arts, too.)

At high school there's the same choices as middle school. I'm still in band and I still enjoy it.

None of it is forced of course, but it's there. And the instruments can be rented from the school for a nice reasonable price. Much less expensive than renting from a music store.
Thank you all for your replies.

A couple of you said that your music lessons were compulsory. I certainly don't approve of that. I just wish the opportunity was still there for kids to learn an instrument at reasonable cost.

I was fortunate enough to have been brought up in a house with a piano and I started both piano and guitar lessons at an early age. I find playing an instrument very therapeutic and relaxing. It's such a shame that children these days are missing out on one of life's great pleasures.

I spend a lot of time in my local music shop and we get quite a few teenagers coming in. They buy a cheap guitar and a chord book and think they're going to be able to learn to play. I'm willing to bet that after a few weeks they find it's not that easy after all and give up. But it does show that the interest is there.

It's the same with keyboards. Parents buy them as birthday or Christmas presents and leave the kids to get on with it. I'm willing to bet that the majority end up gathering dust in the corner of a bedroom.
There were music classes in my school. Kids still get those classes. Alot like art classes. Trying to bring out creativity in the kids. Learning a musical instrument was optional. Also there were music appreciation classes (fluff class). Many schools are cutting back on music programs. Here in the states there many non-profit organizations that will provide musical instruments to schools and that has to help.
I didn't really mind the music lessons themselves, but we had to learn to use something called a recorder...WTH is that? I have never come across that instrument anywhere since then. I kinda doubt there is a big call for "Professional Recorder Artists" in major symphonies. Laughing

Now mastering the Pan Flute (Zamfir we love you!), there's a marketable skill!!!
Vrythramax wrote:
I didn't really mind the music lessons themselves, but we had to learn to use something called a recorder...WTH is that? I have never come across that instrument anywhere since then. I kinda doubt there is a big call for "Professional Recorder Artists" in major symphonies. Laughing

Now mastering the Pan Flute (Zamfir we love you!), there's a marketable skill!!!

Ah yes I forgot to mention that but we were required to have a recorder in 5th grade, for music. Although I don't believe we ever used it. lol. But I agree with you. I had never heard of such an instrument till then. And I've never ever heard of it ever since. Laughing
I think music is an important class to have and its sad that they keep shortening the budget or eliminating the classes completely. Luckily my mom (who was a music teacher) had a chance to retire before it really starting getting bad for music classes.
I remember learning the clarinet when I was in elementary school, but I never really got into it. Music was a required class for us, and it forced me to spend quite a bit of money on renting a clarinet to use. It's a shame that my clarinet playing never really took off, but I think it's good for kids to try new instruments. When you get children started on musical instruments when they are young, they have a better chance of becoming really good later in life. I regret not spending as much time as I could have; though right now I play guitar, and not the clarinet, so yeah. I wish there was something taught other than band or orchestra instruments. It was pretty limiting. But yeah, music lessons in school are a great idea, and they should be kept.

Topic -moved- to "Education" via member complaint.
This is in the U.S...

When I was in elementary school, you could start musical training in 4th grade (9-years-old). The lessons were free but you had to have your own instrument. My father played the trumpet and trombone while growing up and he still had both instruments. I chose the trumpet.

I quickly picked it up, often practicing several hours a day. My parents eventually had to restrict my practicing because I can imagine it getting annoying hearing it all day. Within one month I was playing with an "advanced band," which was filled with people who had already had at least one year of playing. By 5th grade I was the only person playing with a solo. That band program was rather large - many students played.

In 6th grade I went to middle school. I was fortunate enough to be under the instruction of one of the greatest music teachers alive. She actually had won many teaching awards including "Teacher of the Year" for all of California. She was a dedicated and brilliant teacher. She had her classes at school and she actually pulled together some of her best players and put together two dixieland ensembles for after school. We would practice for long periods of time after school.

With extensive fund-raising we were able to raise enough money to go on a trip to New Orleans around summer time and play in some of the best places for jazz in the world. That was a very unique experience and I am grateful for that.

I then got to high school - grades 9-12. District budget cuts began to cut music programs and everything collapsed. Bam! Just like that! There are no more music programs... A few people tried pulling together unofficial orchestras and bands for after school but all of those failed. It's too hard to put something like that together with a bunch of people in high school who don't already know how to play instruments.
I had to take music lessons all through grade school, although we didn't start actual instruments till about grade 5 or 6ish. The school had instruments that we could borrow, even though they weren't like a brand new instrument, they worked pretty well.
Mandatory usually sucks, but in this case I really do think that it is a good thing. It opens students up to a new culture, a new language. It lead me to take music in grade 9 as well. If you don't try out new things, you'll probably regret it later.
I play the flute, I have my own as well, since I prefer it over the school instruments and flutes aren't terribly expensive...
I live in Canada Smile
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