When I was at school, we learnt the xylophone as a class.
I remember them covered in different coloured dots and the music we read was written using these colours. I can’t imagine anyone learnt to read music properly in those classes but it was quite enjoyable and it didn’t sound too bad, even if people made a mistake.
Later on, it was the recorder. In the hands of a child, a recorder can be transformed into an instrument of torture, so god knows how the teacher stood it. I don’t remember having much fun in those classes at all, as the kids either side of me played no notes at all and just blew as hard as possible. I’d come out of them with my ears ringing and I confess to having a low recorder tolerance to this day.
How different things are at my children’s primary school!
Today, the parents of 90 year 2 children convened in the school hall to hear their little darlings play a string instrument. Last September all pupil were assigned a musical instument on the basis of their size. The largest were given a cello, the middle ones were given a viola and the littlest ones were given a violin. DD3 was in the latter group and took it all very seriously.
The instruments lived at school and the children only had one 20 minute lesson a week, so it wasn’t like they got a lot of practice, but the concert was a lot less screechy than I anticipated. You can even hear a tune of sorts if you listen to the video clip below, but I wouldn’t recommend this unless you are a family member, or are very interested in what 30 x 7 year olds sound like on string instruments.
What was really interesting was that the music teachers talked us through how they taught the children to recognise rhythm, pitch and expression, and finally read music. Even the teachers had to join in by learning the cello and they joined in with their classes. Some of the kids have obviously got more from these lessons than others, but they have all made progress and a lot of them will continue with their instruments next year.
DD3 will be saying goodbye to her violin this year; she’s quite sad about this, but is excited to be swapping it for a double bass instead. It’ll be interesting to see how she gets on with that!