Skip to content

‘Whether they like it or not’

children should learn about classical music whether they like it or not - nicola benedetti - teacher and musician

Sunday’s Telegraph featured a series of quotes from Nicola Benedetti on the subject of music education.  The overwhelming message from Benedetti is that pupils should have to listen to classical music whether they like it or not.  In many respects, I don’t have a problem with this as I’ve always thought it important to promote respectful appreciation of music regardless of style or genre.  I do, however, find it concerning that Benedetti is so dismissive of music that doesn’t appeal to her.

I’ve written before about being willing to take constructive criticism about the state of music education from any and all sources.  I value the input of world-class musicians and I am keen to learn from their experiences.  I do, however, think that such input needs to be looked at with our knowledge of the day-to-day music classroom.

We’re not talking about video games

This quote from Benedetti had me scratching my head:
“I think, hang on a minute, if you were to turn round and say to a kids: ‘Would you like to play video games or would you like to have a maths lesson?’ Of course, they’re going to go for the video games.”
With a few innovative exceptions, I don’t believe that music teachers are talking about playing video games.  ‘Video games vs maths lesson’ is not comparable to ‘classical music vs popular music’.  We’re not even talking about a versus situation.  In pretty much every music classroom I’ve seen, the dialogue is ‘classical music and popular music’ (…and a whole host of other musics too…).  
I do hope that I’ve misunderstood Benedetti or that her words have been taken out of context as I simply cannot understand why good teachers and musicians would want to turn this into an ‘either/or debate’.  Yes, I want children to engage with classical music in their lessons.  No, I do not want to sacrifice any type of music in favour of any other.  
I sincerely hope that Benedetti will accept the invitation from Abigail D’Amore (CEO of Musical Futures) to join the panel debate at the Music Learning Revolution in October.  I would like her voice heard (just as much as I would like all other voices to be heard).