Day 139: Tuning Up

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May 18, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

I’ve been on a roll recently, talking more and more about how we’re taught and how we learn and the impact that former has on the latter (and how seldom how the latter affects the former).  The format of a lesson has an immense and critical impact on whether or not whoever’s intended to learn from it actually winds up learning.  Good lessons are inviting, provocative and engaging; bad lessons are one-sided, drab and shallow – their inefficacy is the result of students lack of motivation, lack of interest, lack of any long-term reason to retain whatever information is being shoved at them.  I’m not in the business of pointing fingers, but I’ll go so far as to say that bad lessons (and thus bad lesson-planners), even more than bad teachers (even a great teacher sometimes can’t overcome a truly insipid or poorly-planned, poorly-formatted curriculum), are the root of a cascade of shortcomings with modern, institutional education.  Bad test scores are less important than bad tests; bad tests perpetuate bad lessons, which perpetuate bad learning (that is to say: a lack of meaningful learning).  Today’s project knows how bad some lessons can be, even in the magical world of music, and is confronting the issue head-on with a whole new lesson plan.

Truly FUNdamentals is a music-learning system for aspiring wind instrument musicians.  Practice makes perfect (well, at least it comes closer every day), but when practice itself isn’t appealing, perfection drifts ever farther out of reach.  Mary Ellen Grace has developed a system to make practice more like play.

Increasing desire to practice more was the impetus for creating this unique music method, Truly FUNdamentals, the most FUN musical warmups ever. I take familiar melodies like Oh When The Saints Go Marching In, and Row, Row, Row Your Boat, demonstrate how to transpose them into every key, and provide a CD of rhythm accompaniment to play along with.

The world needs more music, and unless we can find a way to convince the next generation of musicians to keep huffing and puffing away with their instruments instead of updating their status or tweeting about how much of a drag it is to do practice the oboe, we run the risk of a less musical world tomorrow.  My musical career was short-lived (for now), but looking back on my abandonment of the french horn, maybe my lack of interest wasn’t entirely my own fault.  A new way to learn might be what it takes to get me back into trying to learn to play, and I doubt that I’m alone.  Join me in helping Ms. Grace help future musicians by helping themselves stay motivated, engaged and practicing – back The FUNdamentals on Kickstarter before May 23.


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