Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Classical Music and University Challenge

I always enjoy University Challenge and used to watch it, all those years ago, when Bamber Gascoigne was the host!

I have noticed a pattern emerging, which says a lot about music-teaching in schools today.

Of all the categories of questions asked, those on classical music are invariably answered incorrectly nowadays, and I've also yet to see one of the contestants actually reading Music at their respective college or university.

Despite what we're told, frankly it would probably be better to cut music out of the curriculum, rather than keep giving it in ever-more watered down fashion, where frankly young people learn absolutely nothing at all about music in the classical western tradition.

I know my music experience in school as a boy, was really more that of musical appreciation, but I did actually learn things about composers, and some basic facts about music notation etc.

Of course this wouldn't be fashionable today, as everyone's got to be 'composing' music - in fact, anything that doesn't involve any serious effort goes. This is so evident in terms of GCSE, where, when it started in 1988 its standards were considerably higher than they are now, and a number of the more challenging disciplines have been removed. This is all about money, and making a subject 'popular' but it's still so sad to see that, whilst today's students on the programme have a fantastic knowledge about virtually everything - they know basically zilch about music!

You might, of course, say, so what?! Well, I find that I can answer a significant number of questions about science and geography, for example, although I only studied these areas to 'O' level. Then again, we did Latin and all sorts of things which wouldn't go down at all well today. Who would do a degree in Classics, when there's one in Media Studies lurking around every corner. I'm just glad that I was at school when education actually taught you things about everything - not just how to send an email or produce a simple spreadsheet. Oh for the good old days!

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