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Did music lessons at school help with your musical life?

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Cripes, there are a couple of positive responses but overwhelmingly negative.

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22 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

Cripes, there are a couple of positive responses but overwhelmingly negative.

I think it’s an age thing to some degree, in the 70s and 80s most school music teachers were classically trained so not necessarily open to the sorts of music that would suit a bass guitar. If the same question were asked on a forum for members or orchestra’s maybe the response would be more positive. My music teacher didn’t believe anything written after ww2 and mostly anything after 1850 was worth listening to. Being involved with teaching kids music through a charity I am pleased to say music in schools is very different now.

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Yes, and very much so.
Not that the lessons weren't crap or the teachers weren't extremely disparaging of music that wasn't classical music.
Not that the lessons weren't boring to 99.99% of pupils.

It's just that I happened to be that one weird pupil all the info was adapted to, and I sucked it in.
Still hated every single music teacher though, especially the first one, the one who taught us notes and how to play a recorder.

In '63 or so, my buddy Wim played two wrong notes in a row, and that teacher unceremoniously, with a flat hand, slapped him in the face. 
I shouted "a-hole!", and much to my surprise wasn't slapped, but only sent to the corner, to stand there with my face to the walls.
At that point I knew that the teacher was afraid of the consequences of his actions.
Modern times had arrived.

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Our school music department was hopeless really, massively underfunded. Our first music teacher was a knob who looked down his nose at anything more modern than Bach, and who tried to tell us that electric guitars were made of plastic. He left very suddenly and there were rumours that it was because he had tried to grope a pupil. His replacement was a much more amiable chap, who helped us out when my mates and I formed our dreadful 6th form band -- he let us use the music room after-hours and gave us the key to the kit room and (more importantly) the coffee cupboard. He also wrote all the music for the school play one year, which was a musical based around the great plague & fire of London. It was a lot more lighthearted than it sounds :lol: and was a great success.

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For me very positive.  Learned the violin to a pretty decent standard and played in orchestras, quartets etc.  Even toured with the national schools orchestra so learned a fair amount about music.  Quartet stuff particularly useful for later playing in bands.

Edited by ead

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1 hour ago, BassTractor said:

Yes, and very much so.
Not that the lessons weren't crap or the teachers weren't extremely disparaging of music that wasn't classical music.
Not that the lessons weren't boring to 99.99% of pupils.

It's just that I happened to be that one weird pupil all the info was adapted to, and I sucked it in.
Still hated every single music teacher though, especially the first one, the one who taught us notes and how to play a recorder.

In '63 or so, my buddy Wim played two wrong notes in a row, and that teacher unceremoniously, with a flat hand, slapped him in the face. 
I shouted "a-hole!", and much to my surprise wasn't slapped, but only sent to the corner, to stand there with my face to the walls.
At that point I knew that the teacher was afraid of the consequences of his actions.
Modern times had arrived.

Modern times had arrived, in ‘63? In the 2nd year seniors - around ‘77 - I was throttled by a maths teacher to the point of not being able to breathe. We had another who would hurl board rubbers at anyone not paying attention. And I mean hurl them, with a good deal of force. In a games lesson, the games teacher slapped a pupil so hard across the face that he spun him completely round (although he was a knobhead and deserved it). At my previous school a teacher threw a desk at a pupil. Modern times certainly had not arrived in ‘63! 

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My experience was positive overall.  Junior school I learned to play a recorder to a halfway decent standard and sang in the choir.  Secondary school I started to learn piano, decided it wasn't for me and picked up a trumpet instead.  Our music department was full of enthusiastic teachers, I sang in the choir, took part in several Gilbert and Sullivan productions and attended the Newham Academy of Music for extra tuition.  We were allowed to use the practice room at dinner times and after school.  I suppose the oeak of that was playing the lead solo (Mozart's Alleleujah) at the Royal Festival Hall (The academy took it over for a day annually in a thing called Newham Goes to Town).  Fun times :)

 

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Yes, very much so, but not in the bass department. I went to a provincial grammar school, which thought of itself as a public school, except it had all of the pretensions and none of the class. It was big on sport, which I absolutely hated and resigned myself to years of misery.

Then I started music lessons. The music teacher was a real character - a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists no less, with a famously short fuse leading to a fiery conductor's temper. Most of the kids, and many of the staff - including the headmaster - were sh|t-scared of him. But he and I got on famously after he discovered I had a good singing voice. I found myself in the music crowd, where you could get away with a hell of a lot as long as you were delivering the musical goods. The school was big on music thanks to him - I had a part in an opera directed by the Master of the Queen's Music, took part in choir recitals broadcast on Radio 3... it was great.

Sadly, it didn't last. We moved away and my confidence went with it. It took a while for it to come back - changing schools half-way through O-levels had a horrible effect on my psyche. I bounced back a bit by mastering the marching snare drum and rising to become Leading Bugler in the school Corps of Drums, but my musical ability, such as it was, took a back seat for far too long.

I've recently started lessons in singing while playing bass, and quite a bit of what I learnt way back when is starting to return. Thank you, Mr Tickner. And may you rest in peace.

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12 hours ago, taunton-hobbit said:

Our deputy head boy was screwing the music mistress - does that count?

😎

 

But did you learn anything from it?

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The lessons didn't help in the slightest, no.

We had two teachers during my secondary school education that didn't seem to have any love of music beyond classical; this was late 70s, when we had rock, soul, punk, disco, prog, reggae etc all fighting for some kind of dominance.

 

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I've always loved music, however I shan't say I hated music lessons at school but my word were they boring, dull and a complete waste of time. I can't remember learning anything. 

If you wanted to learn an instrument you had to pay, quite a bit, and my parents simply didn't have the money. At Junior School you could pay to learn the worst instrument of all, the recorder. At Secondary the only fun was, if you are allowed i on an instrument, to hit the xylophones so hard you tried to make the keys bounce off.

The best place to learn an instrument was to join the town Silver Band. I've been in bands with 2 people who learnt to play drums in the Silver Band. Unfortunately not much call for guitarists in the Silver Band 😊

Edited by Marvin

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Not in the slightest. Sitting down with the most awful uncomfortable nylon strung accoustic nearly put me off for life.

My mum (who was a folk singer/musician in the late 60's) relenting, getting out her old steel strung accoustic and teaching me "House of the Rising Sun" did though. She never pushed me into music as she wanted me to find it on myown - I come from a family of "play by ear" people. Had a good musical education from mum though Mammas and Pappas, The Beatles, Jethro Tull, The Animals, The who, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Band, Spencer davis group, The Kinks, The Small Faces, The Rolling stones, 50's rock n roll, Glenn Miller....

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Definitely.

I've lost count of how many times at a gig I've whipped out my recorder and played "Little Donkey" to a standing ovation. 

Sadly that is genuinely the sum total of the music skills provided to me at school. 

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9 hours ago, lozkerr said:

But he and I got on famously after he discovered I had a good singing voice

Therein lies a big part of the problem for many of us who were not so favoured.

 

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18 hours ago, scalpy said:

don't just learn about pizza because its your favourite, there are more sophisticated culinary achievements. 

WAIT!!!! WHAT??!?!!!

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12 hours ago, T-Bay said:

I think it’s an age thing to some degree, in the 70s and 80s most school music teachers were classically trained so not necessarily open to the sorts of music that would suit a bass guitar. If the same question were asked on a forum for members or orchestra’s maybe the response would be more positive. My music teacher didn’t believe anything written after ww2 and mostly anything after 1850 was worth listening to. Being involved with teaching kids music through a charity I am pleased to say music in schools is very different now.

I'm not too sure, for me I think it was down to crap teachers full stop.

Up to the age when the lessons stopped I was open to any type of music or instrument. I enjoyed the lessons where we heard classical music and really enjoyed it when a military band came to the school (the trombonist had a huge pointed nose and a wicked sense of humour). But having a repertoire of Peter and the Wolf, Carnival of the Animals, Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra and Sparky the flipping Piano that just get used as class silencers and lessons that just cover the same basics over and again.

Imagine trying to learn English with readings from the same four novels, lessons that never get past basic grammar and only ever being asked to read aloud from the same Janet and John books.

<Edit>

I do know what good music teaching is like, because I took singing lessons. The first lesson explored my voice and my aspirations, and over 10 or 12 weeks  explored my range, made me learn to phrase things, made me aware of and control my breathing and revealed that I actually had excellent relative pitch. It was all focused on 'where are you now, where do you want to go and what is holding you back'.  The only thing was I had to fake the sight-reading by memorising the melodies, easy as they were always played though first 🙂

Edited by Stub Mandrel
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Music lessons at my grammar school in the 1970s were a complete waste of time.  The teacher paid attention to the (mainly middle class) kids that were learning instruments but not the rest of us.  He was a miserable git that inspired no one to get involved in what should have been the most enjoyable and fruitful subject in the curriculum.  Just like what I have read in other posts in this thread, to him anything that wasn't classical music was not music at all.

My parents being working class Londoners didn't push me to learn an instrument, they had been brought up in the war, when food wasn't guaranteed so playing musical instruments was a different world.

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1 hour ago, Newfoundfreedom said:

Definitely.

I've lost count of how many times at a gig I've whipped out my recorder and played "Little Donkey" to a standing ovation. 

Sadly that is genuinely the sum total of the music skills provided to me at school. 

Had you learned 'London's Burning' like the rest of us, things could have turned out different...

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2 hours ago, Nail Soup said:

Therein lies a big part of the problem for many of us who were not so favoured.

That is sadly true. I was just lucky to find myself on the right side of the fence.

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I do think music teaching has moved on a lot since I was at school late 60s/70s), My grandson's teacher was in a folk band and my granddaughter's teacher is a drummer in a covers band the other grandkids mess around with guitars and ukes. My grandson only just discovered he has a pretty decent voice but he's a bass and had been trying to sing tenor all his life, why none of us picked up on that I just don't know, although music wasn't part of our lives under my ex's baleful dictatorship.

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1 hour ago, dave moffat said:

My grandson only just discovered he has a pretty decent voice but he's a bass and had been trying to sing tenor all his life, why none of us picked up on that I just don't know,

My story! First thing my singing teacher picked up and then asked which register I wanted to learn in. I can give Paul Robeson a run for his money but my falsetto is not a thing of beauty...

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I had started playing piano at the age of 5, and was in music schools until I was like 25, so school gave me friends, not any musical education.

This is like my son playing basketball in a wonderful team and the school teacher trying to tell him something about his playing skills.

Or when I went to do my military service and my condition started to go down. There was simply not enough sports.

When I was a kid at school there were levels in maths: if you were good enough you could learn more. Things have changed later on when everybody has to have an equal chance not to learn too much...

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I think it seems that to most schools, music was a lesson to punish bad teachers, like RE, the ones they would get given if they had spare hours that didn't matter much, which is a bit of a shame!

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Mostly no.

On the face of it my school musical education in the 70s (I was at Grammar School from 72 to 79) was much the same as the majority of other posts from people my age. Our music teacher was uninterested in anything that wasn't classical, and the only time we got to hear any pop music in class was when something in the charts had "borrowed" a pice of classical music for its main theme (Greg Lake with "Troika" by Prokofiev and Beach Baby by First Class which used part of Sibelius's Fifth Symphony) when he would take great delight in "proving" to us how second rate pop music was that it had to use tunes from the "greats" to get noticed.

Everyone had the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. However if you wanted to learn anything other than violin, you needed an aptitude test to see if you were worth teaching. For some reason I chose the trombone. My test consisted of seeing if I could manage to blow a note on the mouthpiece (yes after a number of attempts) and if my arms were long enough to reach the full extent of the slide which I couldn't manage and therefore that was it with regards to learning an instrument. No alternatives that might have been more suitable for me were suggested.

TBH right to the point that I went to Grammar School, music of any kind had completely passed me by. My parents had taken me to a number of classical concerts which I found boring and was uncomfortable sitting still for so long on a chair where my feet didn't touch the ground. Pop music also held no interest for me until I heard T.Rex, Slade and The Sweet, and then I started to get obsessed.

My parents had much the same attitude towards "popular" music as school did. Somehow at the age of 13 I persuaded my mum to let me accompany her to "folk guitar" evening classes (which she was doing to improve her employment chances as a Primary School teacher) where I spent an entire year struggling unsuccessfully to play any of the dull (IMO) songs we were being taught on a catalogue-bought steel strung guitar with unplayably high action. And that might have been the end of it, except for the fact that during the summer holidays I borrowed a copy of "The Beatles Complete" songbook, and suddenly it all clicked and I could finally play something vaguely recognisable.

I pestered my parents to buy me a half-way decent acoustic guitar for my 14th birthday along with my own copy of the Beatles songbook plus the music to "Simon And Garfunkle's Greatest Hits" album and surprisingly I was successful, although it was the last time that they supported any of my musical activities. One of the few things I remember being taught at school in music lessons was the names of the notes on the treble clef, and using that I had worked out that I didn't need to learn how to play any of the "difficult" chords like Eb, Ab, Bb and C# but I could simply transpose the song up or down a semitone and play it with the easy ones I already knew and could play. Armed with that knowledge I could now strum my way convincingly through all the songs I knew in both books, and therefore I was ready to start writing my own songs and form my first band with a few classmates from school.

Because there was zero chance of persuading my parents to buy me what I really wanted, which was an electric guitar and an amp, I sold all my Mecano and model railway stuff and raised just enough money to buy either a solid electric guitar, but no amplifier, or an amplifier and a pickup for my acoustic. Since I couldn't see the point in owning a solid electric guitar with no means of amplifying it, chose the latter. It still didn't make me sound much like the guitarists on the records I was listening to, more like the acoustic sound of the guitar but louder and with a slightly less pleasant tone. A home-made fuzz box helped a bit but it didn't make the acoustic guitar any easier to play.

When it came to choose my 'O' Level subjects at the end of the 3rd year there was no room on my schedule for music lessons, so what little I was learning there dried up completely. I did learn a bit more simply by working stuff out for myself. And school did come in useful in the end. During my final year, when I should have been studying on my own for my 'A' Levels I spent all my time in the woodwork shop building my own electric guitar (I worked later on that I had spent more time doing this than I had on any one of my exam subjects). I was able to buy the hardware and electronics as and when I could afford them and without my parents knowing what I was up to. The school didn't seem to care so long as I wasn't making a nuisance of myself when I wasn't "proper" lessons.  The finished instrument was brought home at the end of the year as a "fait accompli" and there was nothing my parents could do about it. Besides I was about to leave home to go to University where I could finally be my own person.

In a way, I think all the obstacles that school and my parents put in the way to me learning about the kind of music and wanted to listen to and play, actually made me more determined to succeed in learning how to play, write songs and form a band. Back in the 70s pop and rock music was still seen as being rebellious, and IMO learning about it at school would have sucked all the fun out of it. I did learn some useful music theory from school music lessons, but  I leant just as much by dissecting the terrible sheet music I would occasionally buy of my favourite songs,  and I learnt even more in the early 80s when, in order to submit my songs to the PRS and earn some royalties from the radio play they were getting, it was necessary to score out all the major musical themes to allow me to register the works.

Because I am almost completely self-taught I think it made me see music in a completely different way to those who had lessons. By the time I was 16 I was writing my own songs and music using all sorts of non-mainstream (even by rock standards) influences, which meant that when post-punk and with it the DIY fringes came along my band's songs and recordings fitted right in. 

This was brought home in a rather depressing way some 15 years ago when I was in a band that also included a couple of teachers. On several occasions our band were asked to provide entertainment during the intervals of various school music evenings and "battle of the bands" competitions. Whilst the standard of musicianship from the kids was far above what myself or my class-mates were able to achieve at a similar age, there was absolutely no signs of any real creativity. Just endless cover versions done as far as possible to the same arrangement as that on the best-known recording. Not one  performer played a song of their own composition. Had there been something like this when I was at school (there wasn't as that sort of thing was definitely not to be encouraged) my band would have been up there inflicting our weird music performed on our weird and home-made instruments, to the befuddlement of all. I'm sure everyone (except us) would have hated it and we would have been told as much, but we wouldn't have cared, and if anything it would have made us even more determined to follow out own path.

For all the slagging off that I give to my school musical education and the obstacles my parents put in my way to playing music and using instruments that weren't of the classical tradition, I am completely sure that for me it was an advantage, and although it was massively difficult at the time, in retrospect, it has made me the musician and songwriter that I am now, and I am glad that it has.

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On 04/09/2020 at 17:18, Nail Soup said:

Just thinking back to music lessons at school (back in the seventies when I was at 'big school' aged 11-16)

I can say I learned absolutely nothing that has helped me in my musical life.

All our teacher did was to stand in front of a blackboard and make us learn the different clef and key signitures on the stave and that kind of thing. Never touched an instrument, occasionaly heard (classical) music and rarely did anything practical. Thinking back I'm getting angry at how bad those lessons were.

It wasn't till I left school and got my first bass that I learned anything. Essentially taught myself from books and friends.

 

Anyone have similar experience?

Or a better experience?

(Note - moved this from a thread in off-topic)

I gave up music as soon as I could - our classes just involved an old guy rattling off facts about ancient composers etc which didn’t really engage a bunch of 11-year-old kids.

It was a shame cos I’ve spent so much of my life involved in music I wish I’d put a bit more attention, put up with the boring stuff and probably would have learned something useful (like being able to read music for starters) if I’d stuck with it.

Then again I’ve had 34 years of playing to learn to read music and I still haven’t bothered.

Edited by bassbiscuits

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