To elaborate a bit on my previous blog regarding the education system , it’s often the case that because of spending cuts the first thing to suffer are music lessons. I’m not absolutely sure what it’s like in schools now, but when I was at primary school I had one-to-one violin lessons ( the school provided the instruments and the teacher also travelled to my grammar school in later years to teach me, as there wasn’t a violin tutor there). Interested children could have also had individual piano, viola or recorder lessons. I played my violin in the orchestra, sung in choirs, and generally felt that my musical nature was well catered for in my primary school, and also when I changed schools to a comprehensive after a house move in my teenage years (the grammar school catered for more academic children).
Fast forward to today’s schools, and there is sometimes only one peripatetic music teacher travelling around different schools. Parents are desperate to see their little treasures on Facebook playing a Mozart sonata , and so often pay for private music lessons outside of school hours. My parents didn’t have to do this for me, but having one very musical child and a jealous brother, I paid for both of them to have piano lessons. We had a piano at home and although there wasn’t Facebook then, the thought of my little treasures playing an excerpt from Swan Lake for example in front of the relatives spurred me on to part with my money.
This outlay was a total waste of hard-earned cash. The very musical child was bored, and he and his brother did not want to practise in their spare time, and the thought of playing to the rellies did not fill them with delight either. The musical child’s brother did better at the piano funnily enough, until the time came when he decided that enough was enough and closed the lid for good. The very musical child announced that he wanted to learn to play the guitar instead.
So every Saturday morning for about 3 years we took number 2 son to the guitar tutor. Number 1 son discovered girls, alcohol and motorbikes, while number 2 son honed his guitar skills. He started up a band in the garage, mastered the intricacies of guitar solos and pinched harmonics, and ended his musical career aged 25 just before fatherhood by touring with his band for a month supporting a well-known musician on his UK tour, and living his rock ‘n’ roll dream (which he found out was not as glamorous as he’d first thought). By then he had also taught himself to play the piano by ear, never reading a note of music.
All this taught me something: Unless the kid has a talent, is motivated, and actually wants to learn to play a particular musical instrument, expensive music lessons are a total waste of time and money!