Teaching students music repertoire

June 8, 2007

The amount of music an educated musician these days “should” know has become rather staggering. That being said, it is shocking how little music literature young music students know these days. It is far more likely that they will know Danny Elfman, James Horner or John Williams film scores before they know a Beethoven, Mozart, or Brahms symphony or a string quartet. Besides classical repertoire, there is a huge music theater repertoire that they should know, jazz and popular music of previous eras are also essential for an educated musician.

Music educators need to come up with innovative ways of getting students to learn this enormous amount of music on their own, out of their own desire to learn more. Cramming it down their throat like so much castor oil is not the way to do it. It needs to come from their desire to learn more. I love it when a student comes to me asking for literature to get to know. I always agree to “write a prescription” for them with the instruction “if you fall in love with a composer’s music, go out and find more of their music, and then read a biography about them.”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

PK June 8, 2007 at 2:04 pm

How fires are lit, I wish I knew. I remember how my jazz passion happened. Around fourteen years of age, I was hanging around a bunch of ten year older people, who were jazz freaks. We would bob our heads to Coltrane’s Ascension and the JCOA boxed set, but I was secretly fakin’. I didn’t really get it but wanted to look cool. Then one night I was MOVED by a piece off one of Wayne Shorter’s Blue Note albums. I bought the album which became a sort of Rosetta Stone. Flowing out to albums by the other players on the album, it took about a year before I heard Out to Lunch and flipped. Ascension, Cecil Taylor,Ornette Coleman, Archie Shepp etc. were all close behind.

People who are passionate about music have always been my friends, yet not everyone is (to my great surprise). I heard a paper in the last year, that mentioned a test result that pointed at one out of ten bobbing their head in confusion for life, secretly just not getting “it”.

Roger Bourland June 9, 2007 at 9:03 am

I met a person once who claimed to have NO interest whatsoever in music. He didn’t listen to it, didn’t like it, and possibly didn’t actively listen to it even if it was in the air. I wish I knew where he was now so I could ask him some more questions.

Previous post:

Next post: