The music lesson

Playing the violin causes middle school teacher Ariel Sacks to ponder the classroom impact on the future of quality live music. If it was structured differently, would the future of music be changed?

In my free time, I’ve been playing in a band (violin, mostly). It’s been exhilarating, lots of fun, and also full of challenges. The most amazing thing about it, of course, is the feeling you get when you’ve put in the work and then one day in practice you suddenly hear how good it sounds. It’s a group effort—each individual player knowing what they are doing and being prepared, listening to one another and the total sound, and responding and communicating effectively. There is an intuitive nature to playing music well in a group, a creative component, and a technical one. There is also a need for individuals to take on various leadership roles to keep the group moving forward, creatively and practically.

Many bands fail because they can’t come together or stay together around these key elements. They struggle to manage themselves, make decisions and comprimises, or understand another’s point of view. When musical groups do succeed at these things, the effect is one of the most amazing things life has to offer—great music.

As I teacher, I just keep asking myself, am I preparing my students to work in a group like this? Would there be more good live music out there if schools were designed to help students organize themselves around creative endeavors that involved technical know-how, creativity, practice, and leadership? How much great stuff *period* would come about if school were really a practice ground for students to work on authentic, collaborative projects with real-world application?


[Image credits: (1) Renee Scotland; (2)]

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