We wish to thank the thousands of studio music teachers, music students, and parents of music students who took time to complete our surveys. We are grateful to all of you for your willingness to share your perceptions and experiences with us.
The last question of each survey invited comments. Many people took this opportunity to offer their ideas about music education. Others asked questions. Since we know it is likely that many people have similar questions in their minds, we wish to share our responses in this public forum.
Questions about the Surveys:
1. Q. What was the purpose of these surveys?
A. The purpose of these surveys was to conduct research about the perceptions and experiences of studio music teachers, their students, and the parents of these students. Ultimately, we wish to develop ways to support studio music instruction, so we need to improve our understanding of the current context. We created these surveys for teachers, students, and parents to learn about who they are, why they do what they do, and what they hope to learn. We will share our findings with academic, professional, and general audiences so that they can use this information to make studio instruction even more effective.
2. Q. All my students do extremely well at both exams and competitions. Why change a good thing?
A. Our intention is not to change a good thing. We want to support success. Our goal is to find out what activities are successful and support those. In addition, we want to find out what types of structures or activities are impeding music learning and try to help change those things.
3. Q. Can I see the results/conclusions of your study?
A. Absolutely. We are currently in the process of analyzing our data, and we will be disseminating our findings through our research website (https://www.musictoolsuite.ca/). We will also be sharing our findings through Twitter (@musictoolsuite) and Facebook (Music Tool Suite). We will keep you up-to-date through email, and we will be writing articles for various music teacher magazines.
4. Q. When will you tell us who won?
A. We announced the winners of the iPad mini packages in June, 2014. You can see the post here: https://www.musictoolsuite.ca/ipad-mini-winners/. Congratulations to these winners!
Questions about Pedagogy and Music Learning:
5. Q. How do you motivate students to return to music after taking a break for their post-secondary studies, especially if these students have completed more advanced levels of performance (e.g., Grade 8, Grade 9, etc.)?
A. Most young adults are focused on starting their careers, but they may be motivated to continue playing their instrument or singing as a means of balancing their professional obligations with some fun and relaxation. If they have less time to commit to practising, they may be attracted to repertoire that they can learn more quickly or that they find inherently motivating to learn. They may be less interested in preparing for exams and more interested in exploring music for its own sake. Choosing contemporary repertoire, playing duets, and participating in a variety of ensembles may motivate young adults to continue making music. If they wish to use their musical skills to earn some extra money, they can be encouraged to work up some repertoire to play at weddings, Seniors’ Centres, or various events that require background music.
6. Q. Is it beneficial for children to continue with lessons when they do not seem to enjoy them? Will the enjoyment come later as the child matures?
A. This is an interesting question. The role of enjoyment in music study is a subject we intend to examine as we analyze the survey data.
7. Q. Can you give me advice on stage fright, or my fear of making mistakes?
A. Stage fright or performance anxiety is something that many performers have to learn to manage. The best way to handle stage fright is to tackle it head-on. You may find it helps to practise performing; you can even increase your heart rate on purpose by running around the block, for example, before you play. You can try a variety of relaxation exercises. And you can try to build your confidence—you’re going to perform, so believe in yourself. For more advice, check out this website: http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/what-you-may-not-know-about-performance-anxiety.
8. Q. Is there a correlation between the study of music and success in academic pursuits? Is this something you will be looking at in your research?
A. This interesting question has received a great deal of attention. Many researchers have found that those who take music instruction also experience high achievement in various academic pursuits. (For more information, see “The Benefits of Music Education” at http://www.rcmusic.ca/sites/default/files/files/RCM_MusicEducationBenefits.pdf.) Our research will explore different characteristics of music learners.
Questions About Resources:
9. Q. How can I access concerts?
A. It is possible for students to go to concerts at a discounted rate. Many orchestras and opera companies have student rates and an under-30 or under-35 program, where young people under these ages can purchase last-minute tickets for a small charge (usually $10 or $15). Some organizations also allow the public to watch dress rehearsals for a nominal fee. Go to the website of your favourite orchestra or opera company and see if these programs are available to you.
You can also watch concerts virtually. The Met in HD, for example, is a program of the Metropolitan Opera; it broadcasts many of its Saturday afternoon performances to movie theatres. You can see the schedule and participating theatres here: http://www.cineplex.com/Events/MetOpera.
YouTube also has many channels that broadcast concerts, such as: CBC Radio 2 (http://www.youtube.com/user/CBCRadio2); NPR Music (http://www.youtube.com/user/nprmusic); or the BBC Radio 3 Channel (http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9jV0BdW9JxqFFdxE372IhQ).
You can also check out DREAM (http://dreammusictool.ca/) to find a variety of live recordings.
10. Q. I need a teacher specializing in music theory and would like to receive a list of names of some teachers.
A. You can find music teachers specializing in theory, history, composition or other musical disciplines or specific instruments by going to your provincial registered music teachers’ association website (start here: http://www.cfmta.org/html/findteacheren.html). You can enter your postal code and find relevant teachers in your area.
11. Q. Are there apps or games to help me learn music? Where can I find them?
A. Yes, there are digital apps and games that can help you learn some musical concepts and help you with your practising. You can find a list of these resources at http://dreammusictool.ca/.