There is no doubt that music plays an important part in all our lives, and especially in the lives of children and adolescents. Yet there is a disparity between the personal engagement young people have with music and the number who take up and develop that engagement through studying music as part of the school curriculum.
Why is it that children who express a passionate love for their personal music preferences cannot translate that engagement into active participation, with all the attendant benefits that can bring?
Historically, music education has focused on the cognitive aspects of technique, form, structure and notation, and the appreciation of music is taught through historical and cultural context.
Our emotional response to music is rarely discussed in the classroom.
Yet for most people engagement with music is emotional. We like (or dislike) a particular piece of music because of how it makes us feel.
In film, theatre and television, music is used to deliberately effect our emotions so that we may empathise with how a character is feeling or sense happiness, fear, excitement or melancholy in a given situation.
In advertising, music has become a powerful device for manipulating our feelings towards a product or service. This is our normal everyday experience of music, and one that children relate to with passion and enthusiasm.
Since 2005, encouraged by the Scottish Government’s Curriculum for Excellence agenda and supported by the Youth Music Initiative, I have been developing an emotional response – led approach to music making in local schools.
What began as a school visit to share my experience of composing music for theatre has become a programme of workshops and courses that have proven to be both inspiring and accessible – harnessing children’s intuitive understanding of music to help them listen and learn.
Details of the workshops and courses can be found by browsing the drop down menu in this section of the website.