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  • Writer's pictureJenny Ferris

The characteristics of a good musician....

One of my favourite quotes from Zoltan Kodaly is as follows:

This was delivered to a group of conservatory students whose abilities Kodaly deemed somewhat lacking (hence the smackdown in the latter part of the quote!)

However, the earlier half of the quotation has become a constant reference point as I strive to figure out my own pedagogy and educational tenets.

I believe it speaks to our need to grow, learn and develop as whole human beings and that no subject exists in a vacuum - especially not music.

As a means of justifying our subject's existence, we often refer to all the other subjects that are covered in music - mathematics through pattern and ratio which can be found through teaching rhythm and metre, science through acoustics, history and geography through learning about where and when each piece comes from, language through learning songs in other tongues - the list is endless!

However, we sometimes forget that we are also teaching students how to be good humans. How to feel and experience emotion and connection with other human beings.

This quotation reminds me not to get so hung up on the theory of teaching musical concepts, but to embrace the education of the whole person (or people) in my classroom. Sometimes, what the students need to work on is the "well-trained heart".

Particularly in the current reality of pandemic education, developing that sense of empathy and interpersonal connection is more important than ever.

I've really taken these words to heart (and to arm - in the form of a tattoo!)

I hope Kodaly's words of wisdom help you as you strive to grow not only good musicians, but good human beings in your classroom.

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