Music lessons in school are often compulsory up until a certain year, or grade (if your in the USA). I remember my music lessons - I had a rather old fashioned teacher who literally spat at the sight of a guitar, bass or drum kit. He was one of these people who is into all classical music. Don't get me wrong; classical music is good (in a technical way), but is that really what pupils should have the music curriculum based around?
I did compulsory music lessons up until 3rd year in senior school (aged 14) and I must say that these lessons were, to be polite, a complete waste of time. The teacher would only teach you to write classical music for piano. The books we read blabbered on about Bach and Mozart. Is this really what we wanted? Is it heck. We wanted modern music, even if it was to be pop music it was better than being forced to listen to Beethoven's XVII symphony or something like that. This, I feel, is one area where schools have failed to modernise and adapt, at least my old school did.
Its not just a matter of whether you prefer to learn about a certain type of music, it is about how beneficial learning about a certain type of music will be. Learning about how modern music has been made and processed is much more beneficial than learning how Mozart tuned his orchestra, for example, isn't it? By modernising music lessons at school I think that more children would become interested in music at a younger age, thus keeping the spirit of modern music alive. My school did have an orchestra and choir, but these had about 5 people from my whole year group in. These people clearly had a liking for classical music, and I respect that, but the fact is that looking at the ratio, learning about modern music in class would be beneficial.
Orcontradicting myself, maybe learning a mix of both would be a good idea? This way lessons would swing both ways into modern and classical, comparing and contrasting styles and technological developments. In my music classes some of the kids had never seen a set f turntables until I showed them mine. This is what schools need to get into their heads - learning about modern music is not only more interesting, but, in my opinion, almost vital. By crossing old and new music in lessons new opportunities can be opened for pupils - orchestras and jazz bands, maybe even rock bands.
Okay, wow this is fun : my opinions changing (yes, its meant to be like this to make it more interesting, really =P ). It is important for children to learn to appreciate all types of music. I learnt to appreciate jazz music by seeing Jules Holland live. I was into all rap and rock music, but this opened a new gateway for me. The jazz music was so different, almost idyllic to me. If children can be taught to appreciate all types of music in the music lessons (although less classical in my opinion, but that's just me being biased) then it will, conclusively, make their lives better. They will be more sociable, happier, and with a bit of luck, learn some useful skills.
Okay, so enough of the ranting from me now. Now comes the part where I tell you what the lessons should be like. Depending on how advanced the lessons are and in what year, expect a different view, but this is what I would expect in a typical 14 year olds lesson: Start off the first week playing some of the more common songs that the kids would have heard of, lets take Blink 182 for example. From Blink 182 kids can relate to them because the kids are the target audience after all. The kids like this music too, so they will be more likely to listen to what the tutor has to say about the song. After this first week or so of popular music to get the kids interested, I would go back to the beginning of the Centaury (or whenever it was!) and teach about Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. I would teach, here, about time signatures and the types orchestral instruments. This giving the kids a firm understanding of the basics of musical notation. Then, I would progress from the Classical music age to the 50's-60's which is where the roots of pop music come from: Blues and Jazz. Jazz was the first major genre of music to use a beat and rhythm. Clearly this is important in the development of modern music. For this, I would relate to a real performer such as John Coltrane. This giving the kids a base to compare classical and modern music, but at the same time swiftly progressing onto the more modern music, as they are 14 after all!
After the Jazz music era, lets call it, came old pop-music. One of the major people here would have to be the Beatles. How they revolutionised music is of such significance it would take a whole article to write about one year of their career, so I won't rant on here! After that came the Hippie culture, bringing a new wave of emotional Ballard type songs, but also lively pop songs. The importance here would be to show how the state of the world affects the whole music industry. Jumping ahead here, look at Michael Jacksons Earth Song written about destroying the earth at a time where environmentalists are worrying about the world. The great Jimmi Hendrix is in amongst this time period, although I wouldn't have him on the syllabus. To get the kids guitar music knowledge increased I would teach, say, Sweet Home Alabamba and Apache (The Shadows). Sweet Home Alabamba shows how technological advances have altered the sound of music.
Coming up to the modern era now, I would concentrate on artists such as Nickleback, some dance music artist I don't know the name of, and Destiny's Child. These would be suitable as the kids would have heard most of their music. They would also help show the advances since Bach. but also show how modern music is shaping up.
Your opinions will be different, I am sure, as you did not go to my school, but I expect that many of you have had a similar experience. Thanks for your time, hope you enjoyed the article.