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June 28, 2022

Condition of music in school

As always, the current edition of the ‘George Enescu’ International Festival brings along feelings of joy and national pride. Enescu’s grand work, with growing international echoes, is a hallmark of noblesse for Romanian art and culture. And, as any hallmark, it obliges to increasing and more diverse efforts, first of all by decision-makers, for a full capitalisation on the creating potential specific for Romanians. The prerequisites for such a superior capitalisation should be found in the absolutely necessary quality of the education system. Conjointly with other subject matters, Music needs to be cultivated among young people in keeping with its fundamental importance, aesthetic but also scientific. The pluses or possible minuses of the current system of education call for Music, as a school subject matter, to receive a condition at least equal to the one of the other fields, as a matter of urgency, with the new academic year.

Music in school can only be a reference subject matter, a factor of order, omnipresent in the education of a young person. Any language and literature can only be assimilated by young persons if they manage to master that inner harmony, that specific musical sense, outside of which a sentence, uttered or written, loses a lot of its charm. This is only one reason for which Music should be recognised its illustrious importance among the other subject matters. However, to languages and literatures are also associated some exact disciplines, from the architecture of ideas of which they should always emanate, at least in their educative hypostasis, also an internal landscape of our daily world, with its aspiration to equilibrium, harmony and conjunction with that call to re-find and recognise ourselves before any other spiritual adventure. And what else could meet that aspiration and call better than music? The musical understanding of the world, far from being a diversion from rigor or precision, amplifies the capacity of grasping minute nuances and fulfilling them through the norms of our living environment.
Such truths are also indirectly strengthened by the reflexes of the unnatural states of affairs under whose empire our school has been functioning for a long time. The marginalisation of Music in Romanian education has gradually led not only to a diminution of the spirit of complementarity of subject matters, but also to the proliferation of a kind of musical education where the kitsch of the poorest taste often ends up crushing even the best intentions or natural spiritual needs. Unable to find at school what they look for driven by the thrust of age, young people find alternatives, often by occasional means, in a fumble that only enhances their personal dramas. With no musical education in school, music ends up meaning not just a source of violence, but also the most awful way of emptying the spirit, by the fact that the same piece is heard dozens, even hundreds of times, like a collapse of cataract, without perceiving any line, colour or relief of the tune. The musical piece is perceived only as a source of hallucination, a delirious jubilation with the well-known spasmodic equivalent. Of course, those young people have no fault in all this, since they are just searching, down convoluted ways, for things musical education should offer them at school, gradually, systematically, something which, unfortunately, only happens randomly.
Consultations with several teachers came to the conclusion that there are three main reasons for the marginalisation of musical education: an insufficient time allowed to the discipline from pre-school up to gymnasium, because, in high-schools it is virtually absent; an non-adjustment to contemporary demands of the school traditions of setting up and running vocal and instrumental bands; and an improper system of training for music teachers. For various reasons – we are told – in primary education the number one objective is for pupils to learn how to read, write and calculate, as absolutely necessary foundation for their future activity. Since the performance is often law in all those respects, the quick conclusion is that, in primary education, the emphasis needs to fall on reading, writing and arithmetic classes. But hasn’t music the wonderful attribute of facilitating access to similar objectives via agreeable or easier ways? Don’t relaxation and joy coming from a certain pace of inner feelings improve learning performance? These are questions to which Plato already gave definitive answers and perhaps that’s why they have stopped concerning the conscience of Romanian law-makers in the area of education. Hence the ever growing paradoxes.
In order for the premises of the 2014-2015 academic year to become concrete and notable achievements, the competence, passion and apostolate of the music teacher are needed. The music class should become that unforgettable space of joy and admiration, unmatched source of culture and sensitivity, brilliant opportunity of self-definition and spiritual self-development for each and every student. A music class allows the most comprehensive and eloquent syntheses. Major currents of universal culture could be better understood through music and, once their meaning deciphered, they could be adapted also as ways of optimisation of better conduct: Repress instincts to strengthen feelings. In this way, young people can become aware of one big truth: not only doesn’t joy, at this age identified with jubilation taken to the extreme, exclude, but actually entails grievous reflection, with its corollary, self-control as the first condition of discipline and order. A young person who loves music and who welcomes music into his/her depth will be freer exactly because of such effort of spiritual openness and the generated capability of resisting the surrounding delusion.
These are as many noble aims calling upon the music teacher to have a catalysing role, much beyond the temporal limits of the class. In this new academic year, the teacher of music is called to give life to ample and complex school musical bands and groups, able to engage each and every student in a self-shaping effort, first of all by using the rich heritage of Romanian musical tradition and by cleansing out unwanted interferences. The originality of the future Romanian music will be very largely influenced by what happens in the system of education.

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