As our first Huili music talent show was held on 10th May, the music department has been busy with interviewing pupils and preparing over the past few weeks. 75 pupils from varying grades took part in the audition. Among them, 16 pupils excelled themselves and entered the next round of selection after they underwent a comprehensive evaluation of the techniques, musicality and completeness of their performances.
Nowadays, pupils live in a world that abounds with multiple learning opportunities. Our music curriculum and its related activities are of great importance to our “whole child” education philosophy. This talent show, as an indispensable part of our music curriculum, gave pupils a fantastic opportunity to express themselves boldly and confidently.
Having witnessed the whole audition process, I would like to share some thoughts and ideas with you.
Firstly, I want to talk about essential techniques. I appeal to all pupils who participated in the talent show to always value and take the time and effort to train their essential techniques which, to many children or their parents, can often seem tedious and boring. Many pupils even lose their interest in learning musical instruments during their training or the ‘parent-child conflict’ caused by it, resulting in them abandoning playing musical instruments altogether.
However, the core problem is not solved in this instance, it is merely avoided, because learning any skill based on a solid foundation of essential techniques is important and necessary. Thus, practising essential techniques should follow a holistic and progressive plan where time allocation is done in a reasonable manner. I advocate that parents, music instructors and children discuss and make an achievable plan together. Once the plan is outlined and settled, children need to clearly understand the purpose of these repeated practices and targets that they should complete at certain stages. When they totally comprehend the importance of this, I believe that they will be motivated and determined to develop their essential techniques, which will have a profoundly positive effect on their playing.
Secondly, I want to talk about musicality. This word sounds tricky, obscure and hard to identify. In my teaching career, I have only met a tiny minority of children who are born with intuitive musical instinct, while the vast majority of pupils have to cultivate and strengthen their musical sense. Only when we possess musicality can our musical performances have the kind of animated spirit that can strike a chord with others. Contrarily, music without such spirit is similar to music played by a computer programme or robot: technically accomplished but lacking in feeling. This is sometimes why performances of even skilled children fail to resonate with us. In this auditioning process, I noticed that some pupils played all the notes deftly, but I expected them to infuse more feeling into their music and to try to blow our mind.
Undoubtedly, musical sense cannot be gained in a single day. To develop it, pupils can go to concerts regularly and read books concerning the backgrounds of their favourite musicians and their works. In the process of truly exploring and enjoying music in this way, pupils can learn to write down or even draw how they feel while letting their imagination run wild.
Finally, I will discuss the concept of the proper attitude towards learning music. I believe everyone has their own answer to this question. Music will accompany us all throughout our lives. In reality, quite a few children feel that they can hardly enjoy music and even resist learning it. How could this happen? In many cases this attitude is developed in response to the idea that the only goal in learning music is to pass certain levels of examinations and obtain the certificates which will benefit the child’s application for top schools. In my teaching career, I am often questioned by parents: “Ms Wang, do you think my child is talented enough to learn music?” For me, it is difficult to give any specific answers. I always believe that learning music should be an enjoyable process. Realistically, perhaps only 1% pupils are musical geniuses, but 100% pupils are entitled to explore and experience beauty of music. Perhaps unfairly, the remaining 99% of pupils need to make great efforts to develop their love of music and their ability to play it proficiently. However, whether we are talking about learning music or any other skill, this is the attitude that they should have. Enjoying the process of learning music with an optimistic attitude is one of the invaluable treasures that they will obtain during their lives.
Next year, we will continue to hold the Huili Talent Show and I am confident that we will appreciate more passionate and thrilling performances as well as more joyful pupils immersing themselves in the world of music.