from music, and we want them to feel emotional and passionate about music. We want to educate them about the great musical moments of the past and the present, because we want them to know how great it feels to experience music. We want them to be more cultured, smarter, happier people. This has to be our goal before making better sight readers, or someone who knows all twelve major scales. This may sound harsh, but who cares if they can't use those skills in real situations. One of the things that makes me sad is when I get a forty year old students who says "I studied classical whatever instrument, but quit when I was young, because I wasn't any good, so I don't remember how to play anything". One of my happier moments when teaching is when I have a 40 year old student that says something like, "I learned guitar from my uncle, and played in a lot of bands as kid, but got out of it when I became a parent. Now I want to study again, and learn more about theory and how music works." What I'm saying is that I'd rather have a student learn just how to play, be a more cultured person, and have real enjoyable music experiences, as opposed to becoming frustrated at a young age and quitting or worse yet having no love, passion, or understanding of music.
I'm glad to say that I witnessed the beginning of this at the HAA jam session last Friday. I saw smiles, excitement, and a strong willingness to keep playing and keep returning to the jam sessions. I noticed students becoming excited about great music like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix. It's in my experience that when students are exposed to music in this way, their interest level and excitement sky rockets. Another positive from my point of view, is that the kids who really want to learn to become outstanding musicians draw attention to their talents, while kids who aren't so interested in becoming professional level musicians are at least more interested in learning how to read, play properly, learn theory, etc. Take it from me, this is how I learned to play. The more sounds and experiences I took in, the more hungry I became to learn. It was my choice to take it as far as I have today, and I'm proud to say that two faculty members I grew up playing with and learning from are part of our faculty today (Adam and Dave:))
At HAA we have a unique blend of teachers. We can use this to our advantage by having kids learn incredibly important classical technique and theory. While at the same time being able to use those skills in creative situations where they are learning and having a lot of fun at the same time. I would love to see a few more piano players and singers at the next jam session. Please give your students a chance to experience something that is out of their comfort zone!
By Jim Scanlan