Those who can, teach; those who cannot pass laws about teaching.
Did you have a teacher who sparked an interest in a subject for you? Who went that extra mile and was so absorbed and enthused by their subject that you couldn't help but be in awe of them as a teacher, and years afterwards you can still remember how you couldn't wait for their lesson?
If you talk to most professional musicians this is how they will speak about their music teachers. Often they cite an inspirational teacher as the reason they became a musician in the first place.
The reality of most musicians working lives is that they will teach as part of their career and many say it is one of the most rewarding things they do. These musicians are creating and inspiring the next generation of musicians.
In a way there are many more opportunities now to learn to play instruments and to perform than ever before. In primary schools children learn the ukulele. There are now exams for rock, pop and jazz musicians, and many varied groups both in and out of school offer high quality musical experiences. Yet there are reports of a real crisis in music education. Many music teachers are leaving the profession or losing their jobs and courses are being shut down at colleges and universities with the real opportunities now only there for the privileged few - so why?
First of all we are seeing an increasingly fragmented education system - especially in England and Wales - and a government that has encouraged schools to move away from their Local Authority and become more akin to businesses. Making money from education is rarely a healthy proposition, especially music education which has high delivery costs including expensive instruments and highly trained professionals. We have also seen massive cuts across the board from preschool to Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE) colleges. As music is seen by some as a 'soft' subject it is therefore an easy target to cut. We believe that music education should be available to all children, as no one can question that music is an important ingredient in enriching our lives. Furthermore, this should be delivered by the best musicians and teachers who need to be properly paid for what they do.
The government recently announced more funding for music education in England and we welcome this decision even if it does come after cuts at a national and local level. But the teaching profession as a whole is suffering from a low morale after being bashed by succeeding ministers- not least by the recently departed Gove - and Ofsted. Music teachers have had a particularly difficult time of late.
The truth is that in 2014, a child's experience of music in primary school is at best patchy and yet it is here that talent should be spotted and nurtured. It has been suggested that musicians need a minimum of 10,000 hours of practicing their instruments to even begin to have a chance of becoming a professional, so starting early is crucial. Of course the other critical factor is having an amazing music teacher.
To highlight these issues the MU is launching a new campaign, #SupportMyMusicTeacher, celebrating the work of music teachers who go way beyond the call of duty in increasingly difficult circumstances. Whether they work in schools, colleges or universities; at home or in studios teaching class recorder, classical piano, drum kit, violin, rock guitar and trumpet and everything in between, it is these teachers who inspire and create future musicians as well as giving them opportunities to play together and discover why music is such an amazing subject.
Here at the MU we are inviting everyone to tell us about their inspirational music teacher, and why access to music education is so important. We will take these testimonies to the decision makers, be it schools, institutions and government and we will emphasise why music must remain an automatic entitlement for all children whatever their background.Suggest a correction