How To Make Music Boring

My grandson brought to our attention that he had done a report for school but didn’t get a very good grade on the report.   The teacher had pointed out where he scored poorly and the weak points of the report.  But the teacher was giving him the opportunity to rewrite the report and improve his grade.

Now this was very surprising to all of us since he has always done very well in school.  From kindergarten up to this year he has never had a bad test score or report card.

What was even more surprising to me was this report was on the snare drum.

I don’t know why he didn’t come to me for help.  I guess it was because the work was assigned to him on a Monday and I didn’t see him until Friday after I got home from work.

I sat down with him and looked at what he had to do and then helped him look up the additional information and write the report so it met the criteria as specified by his teacher.

Based on the teacher’s expectations I honestly thought this report was for English class or some other regular classroom work.

Then he told me this was for his music class.

He had to write a report about the snare drum, a musical instrument, but the teacher wanted it as if he was writing about George Washington or some science experiment.  He had to answer the questions and present the facts that the teacher wanted him to regurgitate.

I looked at my daughter as we stood apart from my grandson while he was writing and I said to her, “And they wonder why kids don’t like music class.”

Here was a music teacher who probably had professors in college who just like the music teacher could take a wonderful, free and opened form of art and turn it into constricted “a,b,c” answers.

They were trying to take an art form and turn it into a turnkey classroom structure like it was math or geography.  That’s probably how it’s supposed to be done in the book.

Music is first and foremost the ears, the heart and the soul.  Music isn’t a bunch of stored up facts.

I know if I was told you can take drum lessons but you must do written reports on the history of the snare drum and cite certain facts and figures, well I wouldn’t be a musician today.

Why not bring an actual snare drum into the classroom?  Then let a drummer play it, then let the kids play it. How about you ask them to write a report about that experience? What did you like, what didn’t you like?  What were the different sounds it could make and how would you describe them? Use whatever words best describe the sounds or better yet make up words that describe the sound.  How did it make you feel?

You get the point.  It’s art be creative!

There would be no right or wrong answers.

If you must grade the student it would be based on how much thought they put into their answers.

Very quickly you would see who may have a passion for music, who discovered where their creatively lies.

But making music class just like math, science and history, let’s go play ball.

Yes the history of the snare drum can be useful.   I wanted to know more about its history as I sat there with my grandson looking up the information but only because I have a passion for my drums which I developed over many years of playing, watching and listening, not writing reports.

Nurture the passion not the data, without passion the data is just data.

I hate to say it but I don’t think this music teacher has a passion for music or teaching.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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