The Most Essential Elements in Music

As a Music Generation tutor I often ask my classes what the most important element about learning music is. Typically I get a variety of answers such as:

“Putting your fingers on the right holes.” (I’m a recorder tutor.)

“Reading the notes properly.”

“Counting the beat.”

“Playing the notes on time.”

And so the list goes on.

Now whilst all the above points are important the answer to my question is much simpler than that. And usually one of the children will eventually get it:

“To have fun.”

Fun. So simple in lots of ways but also easily forgotten. We’re so often striving to achieve that we can forget that music is fun, both for the player and the listener. I’m as guilty of that as anyone. As a student myself there were times when I took it all so seriously that I would quite often forget to enjoy what I was doing. After all, there is sheer joy to be had in making music, an experience I’ve been lucky enough to have many times over in my musical life.

Achievement is important of course it is. Where would we be if we didn’t have goals? And achievements take dedication and hard work, admittedly some of which does feel more like a chore than fun. But in music, something which is known to have so many benefits and brings pleasure to us all, it’s important to get that balance between hard work to achieve and pure enjoyment.

After all, in my Music Generation classes it isn’t as though the children have a choice about whether they attend the sessions, it is a part of their school day. So naturally there are children who excel, some who get on ok and some who struggle. As with anything, they aren’t all necessarily going to be good at the recorder. Whatever their ability I want their memories of their school recorder lessons to be fun ones, not ones of struggle and frustration.

Everyone can have fun with music, whether it is singing or playing, listening to it or dancing to it. It is so important that music doesn’t become a chore, something to be dreaded. In fact one of the best compliments I have been given is to be told by the children that music is a break from “work”. The children who said that see music as a fun hour or so in their day, they don’t realise that through music they are learning and developing, of course they are technically doing “work”, they just don’t see it that way.

As a music tutor I see it as a fundamental part of my job that all my students enjoy the music lessons, whatever their ability, interests or musicality. Whether they love playing the recorder or playing rhythm games, listening to music or singing, exploring different instruments or learning about composers, to me it is vital that they take something positive from their music lessons. Of course I want them to learn to play the recorder – after all that’s my main aim when I go into teach them – but more importantly I want them to just enjoy music.

After all, music is one of life’s essential pleasures and everyone should be given the opportunity to experience the joy. As the philosopher Confucius once said: “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”

Pleasure. Joy. Enjoyment. Fun. The most important elements of music.


Colette Brooks