The year – 1997. It’s a cold winter’s Friday and you’re all set for the weekend, well almost. There’s only one last thing to check off before you can ease into a quiet night in – a trip to the video store.
The excitement you feel on the way, the delight of knowing you’ll pick something, but not before you scan the shelves for what feels like hours, and the icing on the cake, the snacks you pick up at the checkout.
For many of us this was a weekly occurrence, a ritual we looked forward to.
And for the video stores? Business was booming…until it wasn’t.
In what felt like a blink of an eye, things changed. Video stores were no longer king of the hill, the allure had left, and the lightboxes dimmed.
Blockbuster is now just a nostalgic novelty. Netflix came along and swept the rug from right under the feet of video stores worldwide. But it wasn’t because they didn’t try to work with them, it’s because the video store juggernaut ignored new technologies, and more importantly ignored the changing customer landscape and what new desires people had.
Is the same thing happening to music?
It’s now 2020 and for the most part, music is being taught the same way it has for at least 30 years, and in most cases you can add a decade or two to that.
As Christina Donati wrote about in 2017, Our Generation’s Ability to Play Music is Dying.
In this piece Christina mentions that ‘children aren’t passionate about music the way other generations were’, with this generation being pushed away from the arts as they aren’t an essential skill. Today’s focus is dominated by math, science, and sports, skills which are described as necessary and functional to society.
And as spoken about by the late, great Randy Pausch in ‘The Last Lecture – Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams’ – “Parents tell their children to play sports not because they really want them to become football stars – but to help them develop collaboration and socialising skills”
If this is true for sport, why can’t it be true for music also? Why is there such an insistence on learning classical music and pursuing exams?
Learning music in the right environment has so many benefits for young, impressionable minds – improved motor skills, memory, mindset + emotional intelligence development, social skills, problem solving ability and improved mood.
So the real question is, why do parents, who often had their own negative experiences learning music, push their children down the same path they took? If they push at all.
The answer is quite simple, it’s all they know.
But what if there was a better way?
The good news? There is a better way.
After going through the process of learning the ‘Old Way’, and teaching the ‘Old Way 2.0’ we learnt so much. Some very good things and also quite a few things that needed to change.
Our approach is a more flexible teaching method that takes place solely in the group setting. with the Sneaky Music program being created in a way that allows students to move between classes, whether they’re falling behind, streaking ahead, or there is a clash in the schedule.
We’ve found the biggest motivator for our students is the music they get to play. We use a number of originally composed tracks, covers, and genre bending mash-ups to help our students understand the fundamentals of music and be well on their way to creating their own music.