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Musical Play: Education or Entertainment? | Musical Play

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

How we can support teachers to make sure that music sessions are more than just entertainment – they are underpinned by conscious musical education.

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Musical Play: Education or Entertainment? | Musical Play

This comes up a LOT in music education circles and it’s something worth addressing.

Music is, and should be, both educational and entertaining. What sometimes happens, though, is teachers who haven’t had the training required (often through no fault of their own) revert to music purely as entertainment, without the underlying conscious plan to include music education elements in age appropriate ways.

This in itself isn’t a problem – children love a good old disco and so do we!

The problem arises when that’s the sum total of the music experience offered to young children.

Music needs to be nurtured, with creativity and the ability to listen and respond fostered in a way that allows children to develop a deep sense of musicality.

When music sessions focus entirely on “having fun” without a considered approach to what underpins that fun, we see children who may become dysregulated and children who “do a lot of music,” but don’t seem to develop the sense of exact timing and tunefulness that might be otherwise expected.

So, what can we do?

We need to support teachers to grow in their own understanding of music, so this can be passed on. We need to provide excellent resources and ideas so this can happen. We need to provide professional development that acknowledges teachers, like everyone, are not all instantly ready to develop children’s musicality.

We need to allow music sessions to be less bouncy and more introspective.

And we need to allow for times when music is pure joyful entertainment – music for music’s sake is sometimes entirely appropriate.

But music for music education’s sake, mustn’t be forgotten along the way.

Recorded music is awesome. Improvised music is profound.

And the best part? It doesn’t take superb musicians to do this. It takes teachers who take the time to create holistic music experiences. Often, we have seen teachers who describe themselves as “not musical” go on to develop incredible music sessions in their centres.

Music is for everyone and should be every day.

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