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Adult and Musician?

adult and musician - teacher and musician

This blog has typically focused on classroom music teaching but Monday’s news of a survey that discovered the UK is “a nation of wannabe chefs and musicians” got me thinking, especially in light of yesterday’s blog about advocacy.  Although the National Institute of Continuing Adult Education survey found that the top “I wish I could…” skill from their respondents was ‘cooking and baking’, the second most popular was ‘playing an instrument’.  Just two steps down the survey at position four was another musical skill – ‘singing’.

With playing an instrument at 23% and singing at 17% of respondents, it’s tempting to say that 40% of the population would like to me more musical.  In reality, however, respondents were allowed to select more than one skill, so there’s probably some overlap.  Regardless, it’s still a sizeable number of adults who want the skills that we work so hard to give to children.

Unfortunately, it’s not standard practice for school music teachers to teach adults.  But what if these aspiring adult musicians got their wish?  What use would that be to us?  Aside from the potential of possibly pulling a few of these freshly made musicians into our classrooms to help us out, there must be some great advocacy benefits here.  The 23% of the population who would like to learn an instrument could tell the world about the difference it made to them and possibly combat one of the phrases that I find most frustrating when uttered by adults in front of aspiring young musicians:

“I’m not musical”
…or worse still…
“I can’t sing”

If we could get a large enough number of adults saying “I learnt to be a musician” or “I learnt to sing”, then that could start to reinforce the idea that everyone can be a musician.

Of course, there’s already a lot of musicians in our society who would happily proclaim these benefits but I can’t helping thinking that adults who learnt to be musicians while they were adults could be even stronger advocates.  A wider group of adults telling young people that music education isn’t about the “cans and cannots” but is about the “wills and will nots” would be a valuable asset to our profession.

Okay… so… benefit identified…  How do we do this?

Thank you to Music Mark who posted this article, which drew my attention to the survey.