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Nail Soup

Did music lessons at school help with your musical life?

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Mind you I also didn’t take art or history at school, but along with music they’ve been my lifelong interests! Hmm. 

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2 hours ago, BigRedX said:

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.

Reminds me... we had a 6th form concert, first live band I ever saw. The played originals and they weren't sh1te!

All of them in the sixth form. They even brought out a single I've still got and the web remembers them...

 

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10 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

Reminds me... we had a 6th form concert, first live band I ever saw. The played originals and they weren't sh1te!

All of them in the sixth form. They even brought out a single I've still got and the web remembers them...

Agreed - it's not bad at all, in fact quite good considering it's not my genre!

Good memory to have, well done your school!

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Slightly off topic, but I do remember a bunch of the fourth formers forming a band called Stoned Leech. I have no memory of whether they were any good or not, but I do remember the name.

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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 would say my story is same as yours. Wasn't until i left school and took bass lessons that i learned music.

I was asked to join the choir based on what the music teacher heard from the class singing but i was too shy and didn't fancy it. Oddly enough i've never sand since my first band late 70's where i sang Hold Your Head Up by Argent and 2-4-6-8 Motorway by Tom Robinson. Both easy bass lines and allowed me to sing. We eventually got a proper singer and i've never sang since

That's my recollection of those early years.

Dave

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Just as an addendum here, I probably learnt more about music from my mum and dad.  There was always music on in the house; my mum (who passed away a couple of years ago aged 87); while she was a huge fan of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Kinks and The Small Faces, her musical roots were Sinatra, Martin etc.  She took me to my first concert (Elton John, Hammersmith, Christmas 1970-something), I took her to her last (Kiss, Wembley.  'I can't do this any more.')   Until a few weeks before her death, I went down to the house and she was listening to Rod Stewart, Bon Jovi and had a copies of Quiet Life (Japan) and Destryoer (Kiss) in her car.  Just because she was old, doesn't detract from the fact that she'd been listening to Bon Jovi 35-odd years ago, when she was around my age now.

My dad loved soul and reggae, but his overriding passion was for Hall & Oates (which makes my head tilt, even to this day).

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My music lessons at school were pretty crappy too, but I wonder if it might be time to put a bit of perspective into the discussion.

Like quite a few people around here I think, I was at school during the late '50s and '60s. Many teachers teaching music - or indeed any other subject - at that time had little proper training in the teaching of their chosen subject. After WWII, work had to be found for the thousands of soldiers being demobbed. Additionally, the school leaving age was in the process of being raised from 14 to 15 at about the same time so there was a pressing need to get people into the profession. (Teaching had been a profession that encouraged - though it didn't actually require - specialised training since the early years of the 20th century, but emergency powers to fast-track people into teaching were setup in 1943 and continued until the early '50s). Kids going to school during the '50s, '60s and '70s would most certainly have encountered these 'certificated' teachers, and even in the early '80s when I joined the profession, a number of my senior colleagues were certificated. Under these circumstances it shouldn't really be surprising that the teaching of music was patchy at best. LEAs acknowledged the importance of music education to the child's development, but had no real clue as to how to implement it. In practice, schools were essentially left to their own devices.

The rise of popular music culture at about the same time was very much at odds with the classical training and/or interests and/or attitudes of the teachers standing in front of it, so it should come as no surprise that the two ideologies didn't see eye-to-eye.

I'm not taking sides by the way, just trying to give a bit of perspective as to why so many baby-boomers are reporting such poor experiences.

Even today (and without wishing to hijack the thread), music continues to be one of those 'difficult' subjects to really get right in education, especially with so many politicians and employers forever chirping on about the need to focus on teaching kids subjects that will be 'of use to them' in the world of work. I still hear people chuntering on about the three R's (actually I've never really understood that one: Writing starts with a W and Arithmetic starts with an A. What kind of educational example is that setting FFS! o.O).

In a school where its importance is understood, and which can afford to devote resources to it, and be in the fortunate position of having teachers who can deliver it effectively to today's kids, and where there's a local music service staffed by properly qualified and experienced musicians to provide instrumental training, music flourishes (as do the students lucky enough to benefit from it).

Probably also worth adding that for most musical instruments, a classical training is still the norm; and while I'm here, classical training is also still the norm for primary age guitarists (and bass is not taught at all at primary level to the best of my knowledge). It does no harm to remember that not every 12-year old budding musician wants to play guitar or bass.

 

 

Edited by leftybassman392
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@leftybassman392 I don't think that you've hijacked the thread at all. More like some interesting observations that probably many of us who were at school in the 50s 60s and 70s had never considered.

I think also that in the more academically orientated schools, like the Grammar School I attended, music was very much second class in terms of importance and facilities along with subjects like RE, woodwork, metalwork and art each of which took up no more than one period per week over the course of the school year. And when it came to picking your 'O' Level or GCSE subjects they were very much reserved for those pupils "too thick" to be assured passes in the sciences and arts. I know that even if I had wanted to do Music 'O' Level, it would not have been possible as for me the only choice was between History and Geography as my 10th subject - school and parents had already decided which other 9 I would be doing.

 

 

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I switched off during my secondary school music classes after the teacher,a Mr Weston,asked the class

"Do any of you play a musical instrument"

I stuck my hand up & when asked replied "I play bass guitar sir"

At which point he scowled at me & said "Does any play a proper musical instrument"

That did it for me,even at the tender age of 12 I knew he was a knob end.

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My school did pretty well - in the mid to late 90's.

I had one 25 minutes one to one bass lesson each week, from someone who turned out to be a bit of a local legend - George Lyle. I didn't know this at the time though. I learned a mixture of genres, though he obviously favoured jazz. I eventually learned pieces up to level 5 for my Higher exams. (A bit like a Scottish A-Level)

Outside of this, the school had an orchestra - but played more interesting music rather than clasical standards. From rock numbers like Eye of the Tiger and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, to accompanying the choir for a Queen medley. They also put on a musical at the end of each school year, and I'd inevitably be part of the band - being the both capable enough to handle the pieces and enough of a geek to want to! My mates would be on guitar and drums. In return, we'd sometimes be allowed a slot at Christmas shows or similar with our own band, where we'd do something like an Oasis cover.

The year after I left and was a Uni student, I got a call from tthe head of the music department, asking if I'd play bass for their summer musical Grease, with about two weeks notice - they original bassist was struggling to get it up to scratch and pulled out. Some of my slightly younger friends were involved, so it was quite fun. My first paid gig. I think I got £50 for a matinee and two evenings.

George

 

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On 04/09/2020 at 22:12, Frank Blank said:

I really fancied both my music teachers at school which was rather a distraction whilst attending lessons but conversely this encouraged a disciplined regime of after hours practice on the pink oboe, unfortunately not an instrument recognised formally within the comprehensive curriculum during the 70s.

Very funny @Frank Blank 😂

I am assuming you remember that brilliant Peter Cook sketch years ago about the 'Jeremy Thrope' case, which had that genius line in it:

'a self-confessed player of the pink oboe' 

Going back on topic, I did O'Level music in 1976-77 and although it did have all that droney stuff about certain classical composers and their works, what I did get out of it was the understanding of the major and minor keys, scales, plus stuff about harmony and time signatures etc.. 

So when I first started playing bass in bands - and was learning to play the instrument using tabs as opposed to those there proper dots - I could at least with my basic music O'Level theory, understand what was happening with the guitar chords in the songs we were writing/playing.. 

I'm grateful for that I'd nothing else as it meant I wasn't afraid to explore bass lines beyond simple root note and 5th...

Must admit, I also really enjoyed learning about how crazy and obsessive some of the famous classical composers were, and what unusual and sometimes sad lives they lived.

It completely prepared me for all the weirdos that I then met later on in the music business! 😁

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A great thread, this, and just goes to show the various things that formed our music/ musicianship in later life. I suppose there were not too many formal music lessons that made a difference to me but certainly a lot of music all around that had a lasting influence and shaped much of my life.

As I said, music was all around, from mum and dad singing round the house, the church choir and primary school where there were at least three pianos and a lot of time spent singing. Or that was my impression.

Then at age 10 I went off to the Chichester Cathedral choir school, very much aided by the choral scholarship which remitted half the school fees back to dad. We’d sing eight full services in the Cathedral a week, each one preceded by quite intensive practice. So by age 11 going on 12 I could read and sing quite busy four part harmonies. We used to stay on over Christmas and much of the summer holidays so it was all quite full on.  If very enjoyable. While there we had to take up a musical instrument and I studied the violin, getting a few early grades.

Then leaving to join the posh boys school I encountered a musical desert. No music lessons, no nothing except a tired old codger coming in every morning to play organ for the morning assembly. Such a useless school that tuition didn’t progress after the fifth form.

So I was sent to the local grammar school for sixth form. It had a good football team but what excited me was it had a jazz band. (Rock bands hadn’t yet started). And it had an excellent slightly eccentric music master. And when I arrived on the first day of term I spotted a double bass on the stage. I fell in with the crowd who surrounded the jazz band . I was soon in and while still at school we were playing support to a lot of the headliners that came to Reading Town Hall.

So not too many formal lessons but surrounded by music and finally a some good friends who shaped my musical life. 

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On 07/09/2020 at 12:16, leftybassman392 said:

the three R's (actually I've never really understood that one: Writing starts with a W and Arithmetic starts with an A. What kind of educational example is that setting FFS! o.O).

Reding, riting and 'rithmetic. The three pillars upon which Civilisation stands.

If one can't red, rite or do sumz one can't do any of the other edjermacational stuff at which juncture one finds oneself remarkably fuͤcked.

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28 minutes ago, skankdelvar said:

Reding, riting and 'rithmetic. The three pillars upon which Civilisation stands.

If one can't red, rite or do sumz one can't do any of the other edjermacational stuff at which juncture one finds oneself remarkably fuͤcked.

'ow do Skank. 'ow's yer belly fer spots?

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1 hour ago, leftybassman392 said:

'ow do Skank. 'ow's yer belly fer spots?

Orrite, Leftay. Yowm good ar ya?

black-country-slang1.jpg

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32 minutes ago, skankdelvar said:

Orrite, Leftay. Yowm good ar ya?

black-country-slang1.jpg

th?id=OIP.131E3v7ELNVaqvCYfNYH_AAAAA%26p

Much though I'd like to engage, I fear the correspondence to the Queen's English is altogether too tenuous for me to sustain the illusion with any conviction for any length of time. Oi 'ope ya dow' moind.

Edited by leftybassman392
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22 minutes ago, skankdelvar said:

Orrite, Leftay. Yowm good ar ya?

black-country-slang1.jpg

That's Wolver'ampton that is, maybee Darlo.

Speak like that in Dudley and they'll send you packing 😉

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Found an old school report a few weeks back and my music teachers comments were ... 

“Alex needs to stop focusing all of his time on the bass guitar and make sure he’s spending time learning a variety of instruments”

... Pretty sure this is the exact opposite of how you learn to play an instrument.

Fortunately, at the time I was too busy playing my bass to be arsed to read my school report.

 

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No, I absolutely hated music at school with mr berris 

when I did it myself it made sense 

Edited by Geek99

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1 minute ago, Geek99 said:

No, I absolutely hated music at school with mr berris 

when I did it myself it made senseless 

Is this the start of a rap?

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Just now, upside downer said:

Is this the start of a rap?

I shall correct myself 

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I was one of those kids for whom Music was one of the few things which made sense in school. Some subjects were easy and some were hard (a U in O level Chemistry and 2 Us in O level French come to mind) but I actually understood what was happening in the music lessons. I was in my mid forties before I understood how to write an essay so my tidy marks in O level Welsh and English were down to something else. They came crashing down in A level (E twice in English and a U in Welsh). I was also the first pupil in my school's history to be invited to leave an A level (History).  I had a great music teacher who gave us many opportunities to do our thing with gentle encouragement. Anything I have done since then is down to the hour a week of Aural Perception lessons I did at A level. He gently formalised what I was already hearing and enabled me to label it all. He saw me for what I was and led me on superbly. I tell him every time I see him and I even tell his children. Did we do groovy pop stuff? Not in lessons really. It was not on the curriculum. He can hardly be blamed for that. I have nothing but praise for him.

I was also hugely involved in the County Music system (and beyond) of Orchestras and Choirs as well as playing in the local University Orchestras and local Madrigal choir. I did so much playing that I never did any practice but still managed to get away with it. Two 3 hour rehearsals per week + 6 hours once every 4 weeks on a Saturday tended to keep chops up. This was in the late 70s/early 80s. 

It did not hurt that I also lived in a part of Wales where there was just an expectation that you would be involved in all the local Eisteddfods and performing was just something you did. When I hit University it came as a bit of a shock to see how some musicians who were clearly more capable than my friends at home could not stand on stage and give it the beans because they had just not had that experience at school and in Eisteddfods.

I was a peripatetic 'cello/DB/Bass Guitar/Guitar teacher for many years. I have seen the inside of so many school music classes and I take my hat off to anyone who does it. There is not enough money in the world to make me want to do that. And I am a full time FE Music teacher. Teaching Music to a disinterested Year 9 group on a Friday afternoon must be a special kind of grim. I struggle to see how it can work really. If you are appealing to all the kids who would love to be giving it the max while composing EDM then there is a whole other group of kids who would be walking out of the door. GCSE has a performance element which is tricky for the EDM crew because that is not where their strengths lie. You would also need banks of Macs for all of them to have their own space. I would say banks of PCs but when we were runing PCs at work literally 20% of every lesson was spent trouble shooting some technical problem or other. And schools just would not have the budget for banks of Macs. Virtually none of the students who come through our doors have been involved musically at school. Much respect to school music teachers working in incredibly difficult circumstances.

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Primary school was quite good. There was a good music teacher who I learnt from & I started playing the violin (badly - Grade 1 second attempt) & played in the school orchestra. After moving to secondary school I was made to feel like I couldn't play at all. Looking back, the teacher quite simply bullied anyone who wasn't good at playing. When I announced I was giving up he lost it, screaming his head off at me "Ahh poor little diddums is finding it all too much isn't he - it's all too much for him... etc etc" - actual quote that sticks in my head to this day - I was only 11 or 12 & was quite bemused an adult would behave like that.

I lost all interest in playing music until I was at college when my friends inspired me to take up electric guitar. After a switch to bass a couple of years later there was no stopping me.

I probably learnt some basics of theory from school but overall it turned me away from playing music. 

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21 minutes ago, owen said:

(a U in O level Chemistry and 2 Us in O level French come to mind)

Us in Chemistry, French & Maths for me 😄

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