In music, skill correlates with success

nmz - new music newspaper

The following text is based on a keynote speech that Reinhart von Gutzeit gave in mid-October at the music school day of the Association of Bavarian Singing and Music Schools (VBSM) in Bad Wiessee.
As long as I have to do with music schools, I watch the attempt and participate in positioning the music schools more clearly in society. Where do they belong? School? Youth? Culture? Education? Education? Leisure market? Is it about the thing itself - the music and the musical skills? Or is it about “transfer” - the famous “key qualifications”? Is it about music making you smarter (??), more concentrated, more performance-oriented and more social? Or is it - as the Rhinelander put it - simply about "having fun with Freud"? A bit of everything? But what is then in the foreground, what defines the profile and nature of the music schools?

Educational mandate and market

One can only say very superficial things about the relationship between the educational mandate and the market without at least getting into the roughest outline of the concept of education, and without considering more precisely how specifically the educational mandate of the music schools should be understood. There are three terms with which the field is to be illuminated: teaching, upbringing and education. By no means synonyms, but terms with clearly different contents. In them lies a direction of development from the individual to the whole or from the particular to the general. A quote from the great German philosopher Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776–1841), Kant's successor to his Königsberg chair, explains the fundamental difference between teaching and upbringing:

"By far not all lessons are pedagogical, he says, what is learned because of the acquisition and advancement ..., and one does not care about the question of whether this makes people better or worse. As he is, he intends, whether for good, bad, or indifferent ends, to learn this and that; and for him the teacher is the right one who teaches him tuto, cito, jocunde (safe, quick and enjoyable) the required skill. "

In order to learn such things and other things because of gainful employment and advancement: We can assign an introductory course in Windows 2000 to this category, or lessons in the driving school - even though you have to wish for "educational elements" there. I am already getting ahead of the game a good bit if I only suggest that with such types of instruction (which teaches the required skill quickly and safely for the sake of acquisition and advancement) I can quite easily imagine an orientation towards market principles, without bad ones Consequences to be feared.

We are not talking about such teaching here, but about educational teaching, continues Herbart. He and his successors were of the opinion that educational instruction about the development, the building of "circles of thought" had to serve the "formation of attitudes" and the "formation of character". Forming attitudes and character - terms, but also approaches with which we find it extremely difficult. Once again you can feel how we are caught between two brutally effective fields of force of our more recent historical development: on the one hand, the aftermath of the Nazi era, where idealistic terms such as attitude or character were terribly perverted. On the other hand, there is the American-influenced thinking about success and assertion, in which ethical orientations seem rather obstructive. Against this background, our reluctance to actively take care of the attitude and character formation of the young generation is to be understood - we can see where this leads every evening on the news.

The author: Reinhart von Gutzeit. Photo: Inken Kuntze

Back to the essential difference between teaching and upbringing! Teaching can be described as imparting and developing knowledge, skills, abilities and insights. Upbringing, on the other hand, is to be understood as: building a self-image and worldview, acquiring social attitudes and behavior, intellectual openness, perhaps also optimistic sense of life and energy.

Education is more than comprehensive and in-depth knowledge. On the one hand, education presents itself as the sum of teaching and upbringing, but on the other hand it also goes beyond both. Because the concept of education, as it came to the fore in Romanticism, also points to a completely changed understanding. The prevailing point of view saw education more in analogy to manual work. Just as the craftsman creates his object according to a preconceived plan from an existing material with a suitable tool, the educator creates a certain shape of the person entrusted to him according to the goal in mind. With sufficient persistence and knowledge of the material, the desired result is ultimately achieved through the planned application of the right methods.

This way of looking at things changed decisively in Romanticism. Now man is no longer seen as a material that can be shaped at will, but as a being that unfolds from within according to his own law towards the goal laid out in him. “Education” is now seen more as the result of organic growth. This leads to a completely different concept of education: as an art of nurturing and letting grow. Rousseau describes it as negative upbringing - negative in the sense of not disturbing a natural process.

Even if one does not want to join such a radical point of view - one thing seems clear: that the pupil or student has to take on much more personal responsibility if teaching and upbringing are to become education. The wisdom of language has recognized this as so often: "I teach you, I educate you" - it does not know the sentence "I educate you". “You educate yourself!” (On the other hand there is the sentence “I educate you” - but it has a completely different meaning.)

Let us turn from the general to a more specific consideration and try to insert music lessons, music education and musical education into this tableau. In a tabular overview, I have tried to supplement the general goals with examples of content and special goals and to assign them to the terms teaching, upbringing and education.

We are familiar with the details of a musical lesson and do not need to be explained, but rather supplemented. In the narrower sense, musical education aims at a love of music and enjoyment of musical activity, but it also focuses on general goals such as the ability to commit, motivation and the like. At the educational level, general goals and sub-goals are inextricably linked. This is about musical education as part of an aesthetic education; it's about scale and sense of proportion; about sensitivity; about respect for other orders, i.e. the ability to relativize one's own convictions and values; to build bridges to the past. Education formed from such components together with wisdom and experience ultimately constitutes a quality such as "wisdom", which is still needed in our contemporary world when it comes to giving advice and making decisions that are not calculated according to factors and key figures, but must be weighed.

How does the school, as the No. 1 institution for teaching, upbringing and education, cope with this task? It seems to me that it concentrates depressingly on the field of "teaching". With regard to the aspect of upbringing, many teachers have withdrawn from personal responsibility. And education? It is certainly very difficult to get an objective picture; but if you look at the school landscape from north to south, you don't get the impression that we are in an economic boom.
When looking for the causes, the suspicion arises that it has something to do with the exaggerated focus on key figures in school lessons. What else would the school grades from 1 to 6 or from 0 to 15 be? But the stronger the power of the key figures (think of the pressure from the numerus clausus), the more they will become independent. That means: all the more it is all about meeting the key figures - regardless of whether they reflect actual learning or educational success.
I do not want to overstate the work of the music school and claim that it easily reaches far beyond teaching and regularly achieves the educational and visual goals. And yet I have the impression that our balance sheet - especially in the area of ​​education - is a gratifyingly positive one.

The educational mission of the music school, as it is fanned out in the graphic overview, cannot be reduced to a simple and unchangeable formula, but must be seen as a changeable organism. Without questioning the basic idea, accents can be set in different places and this can also be observed in the still relatively short history of music schools.

The founding years of the post-war music school, for which the names Fritz Jöde and Wilhelm Twittenhoff stand, saw themselves as the successor to the musical youth movement and placed the emphasis on singing, on enjoying musical activity, sensitivity and a sense of community. The great expansion of the music school system, which began in the 1960s, was strongly influenced by the VdM and driven in particular by Diethard Wucher, placed significantly more emphasis on performance-oriented music-making, on instrumental lessons based on the university model, and on qualified ensemble work. The terms that come to the fore with this changed perspective are easy to define.

In the 1990s there was a noticeable opening of the music schools. All insiders are familiar with the fields of instruction that are now finding their way into music school work - from handicapped work to adult lessons, from rock group care to multicultural offers. More and more children, adolescents and adults are working in the context of the music school with content that has not yet been represented in the “Jugend musiziert” competition for good reasons.

The music schools tried vigorously to maintain a high standard in these new fields of instruction and not to allow the principle of “who can, who can” to break through. Will it work? Or will new subjects and the associated new customer requests (!) Not only require a change in style, but ultimately a fundamental correction of the educational concept?

The market comes into play

The word “customer request” does indeed indicate a paradigm shift. For some years now, market-oriented thinking has come into play in music school work. Of course, the music schools have never been outside the market, how could that be possible. But they gave little thought to the demands of the market or to their own “market strategies” until a new way of thinking was imposed on them a few years ago.
In contrast to the historical steps of the music school described above, this is not a development that has arisen from within. It is a new approach that is being laid as a grid over many public institutions. I can still remember exactly how Alexander von Maravic, the former administrative director of the Bochumer Schauspielhaus, broke the collar at an institute directors' meeting. He was passionately upset that his company's efforts to create living art, aesthetics and finding the truth on the stage should in future be regarded as a product and should be measured and assessed according to key figures.

Many of us heartily dislike such a way of looking at our work for the same reasons. We want to fulfill a mission and not “serve demand”. We want to be active and teaching about art. We seek our success in the development of the talents of our students; in kindling a fire in their minds and hearts and also in the affection they show us; in the approval of their parents or in the applause of an audience - but not in the fulfillment of key figures - even if we have defined them ourselves.

The "new way of thinking" - controlled by financial difficulties and the need to thrive - has brought guests into the music schools who one would not wish for one's worst enemy: management consultants. Consultants have learned to differentiate between profitable and non-profitable areas and to make suggestions for maximizing profit or avoiding losses. In view of the clarity of the music school structures and the fee regulations, this is no feat. The real trick would be to show how one can minimize the need for grants without damaging the educational, artistic and social mission of the music school.

It is painful to observe when sponsors spend a not inconsiderable part of the music school's annual subsidy requirement for an expert opinion that actually only has to fulfill a specific purpose: to legitimize a painful partial amputation with the authority of an expensive investigation and to put those responsible in the hands of those who are responsible possible to wash in innocence.

Company music school?

Nevertheless, many music school directors are convinced that tools that have been developed for successful action in an economic environment can also be of use to music schools. Is it helpful to see music schools as companies and students with their parents as customers? Or to see the “appearance” of the music school in terms of its corporate identity formed from design, communication and culture?

A short test to the example can show that such a point of view can certainly produce essential insights. On the subject of “public relations”, she would suggest to the music school not to be content with a single-line, meager entry in the phone book under the heading “City Administration Schools” (so that uninformed customers do not end up at the Lustig Music School), but instead in the long run To strive for an attractive homepage and to staff the phone with a friendly, accommodating force.

In addition, the establishment of the music school's own press office would be suggested. How else could such an extensive range and hundreds of events be successfully “marketed”?

Programs should not only be creative and loving, but should also be designed in a highly professional manner with a recurring appearance. Should the names of the teachers be mentioned? Pedagogical considerations - the student at the center - must be weighed against marketing strategies - which teachers promote as the most important asset of a school.
Coffee and cake after the concert are undoubtedly a means of communication. But how about corporate communication? Doesn't the content - the music-pedagogical-artistic work - take a back seat and become a “prelude”? Is it good if the church, youth group, sports club and music school only differ in what happens before coffee and cake?

What image of the school do the staff convey to the public? How do the instrumental teachers talk about the elementary educators - and vice versa? Does the administration see the teachers as the ones whose work needs support or the ones whose lists are always waiting for? And vice versa? Do the instrumental teachers support the work of the ensembles or do they imply that the ensemble leaders are addicted to profiling? Do the teachers demonstrate their identification with the school in concerts?

Let us break off the consideration here. The subjects are familiar. But it makes sense to systematically examine the work from such a perspective: it is the point of view from which every “customer” consciously or unconsciously looks at the music school.

Key figures

Even with the key figures - as strange as the term is at first - there is a lot of familiarity. The annual report form to the VdM contains a wealth of relevant key figures - since time immemorial.
But the compilation of new data under new questions, as it is now being worked out in various projects, is certainly a great opportunity to better understand the field of music school, to better organize it, to present it better and to refresh it in some respects. We just have to be very aware that essential parameters of music school work are largely beyond representation in key figures.

Relationship to the private

"When it comes to the keyword market, our warehouse deals almost ritually with unpleasant competition from private or commercial teaching companies". (Bernd Geith)
I fully agree and limit myself to a few remarks:

• It is undoubtedly part of our educational mission to make every effort to ensure that all children and young people interested in music enjoy highly qualified lessons and are not fobbed off with cheap offers.

• We are entitled to actively and clearly promote the interests of the music schools represented by us and united in the VdM.

• But I warn against becoming operationally blind and wanting to get rid of ghosts that we ourselves have called. (We know how many music school teachers and how many music schools see their greatest success in leading talented and interested students to study.

These are the trophies that are often proudly displayed in our educational hunting grounds.) It was we who took these young people into our hearts, motivated and encouraged them. After their studies and exams, to their great regret, they cannot find a place at a music school and have to try to create a field of survival on the free market. They can't become our enemies with that. I therefore advocate that the music schools and the VdM try to build bridges to these young professional music educators outside of the music schools, despite all justified efforts for their own territory, their own rights, their own profile.

Music schools and their market

Key figures, new controls, corporate identity, private music schools - these are all important, in some cases new, aspects that come from the world of the market and affect and change the world of music schools. But it is not yet the crux of the problem they face when looking at their market based on their educational mandate. Questions like these arise:

Are we serving the demand? Are we clinging convulsively to types of music that hardly any young person wants to hear anymore? Are we largely ignoring musical styles, which represent the only interesting music for 95 percent of the young generation? Are we fixated on our traditional forms of teaching - the focus is on years of individual instrumental lessons - although most of those interested would much rather opt for a short-term project?

A frequently expressed opinion: The music schools are primarily intended for children and young people - but all current forms of youth culture are only allowed into the house in homeopathic doses as an alibi!

In this criticism - already in the term "youth culture" - an assumption is expressed which must be contradicted: namely that the youth themselves have chosen their culture. No - this “choice” is largely market, media driven, and commercial driven. Can a quasi-moral obligation of the music schools be derived from this?

Of course, it would be fatal if the music school ignored what does not meet elite standards. But when would the music schools ever do that?

To mention just one example, you turned to the electric organ a long time ago. The motive was clear: If so many are interested in it (market!) Then it is better for the music schools to take care of it than for a greengrocer trained by Yamatempi to show the students how the automatic chord function works. But the new offer (like all the others) should be put to the test. The test question is whether the arduous work - provided with curriculum consecrations and academy blessings - has really led to teaching, upbringing and education taking place.

It is certainly true that in some instrumental classes there is a fatal cemetery quiet. And it is surely also true that projects with a manageable duration and an exciting goal "set students in motion" much more. But which music school would have given up on projects? Only: Project work without preconditions and consequences may play a role in creativity pedagogy; in music school it cannot be an ideal.

One of the great assets of musical education - perhaps the secret of its effectiveness - lies in the fruitful interrelationship between the individual and the communicative. I work on myself, develop myself, then step into a circle and can contribute there. The ensemble inspires me and arouses new motivation for personal commitment. The music schools should continue to place their project work in this interplay. It is certain that the demand comes mainly from the "fun corner". When registering, the parents of the youngest pupils already emphasize that they are “primarily about having fun”. Of course, the music educators also want that. But we also want to show the students how satisfying it is to make an effort to crack medium and harder nuts. How satisfying it is to deal with art. Good music school lessons are not only technically demanding, but also colorful, exciting and possibly humorous. But the music school teacher must not - even if the market would honor it - become an "edutainer". If the job description of the music school teacher and that of the entertainer at LTU Reisen only differs in terms of a musical background that is ultimately not needed, the job becomes superfluous. Then music colleges and conservatories would also be far too expensive institutions to qualify for such cheap work.

I am certainly not suspicious of wanting to bring the “noble art” back to the center of the music school. In 1989 I formulated theses on open music school work at the Aachen Music School Congress. It called for no musical manifestations to be declared a taboo zone, and all developments in the music scene to be checked to see whether they could be addressed with music-pedagogical offers. A warning was given to bridge the gap between the musical styles and their supporters. By the way: Back then, nobody knew the term “crossover”. I will certainly not claim that the music schools invented this refreshing anti-sectarian musical thinking, but they can certainly ascribe a small contribution to this development.
The ideas of the “open music school” have been continued in many places, they also coincide with the essential contents of the North Rhine-Westphalian project Music School 2000. A common feature of all these ideas is that the communicative and social aspects of making music (which have always been important! ) should be taken even more seriously and brought more into focus.

Nothing should change about that. But it is now time to raise your finger as a warning: the music school would be in great danger if it disregarded its professionalism. I take it to the extreme and say: It's about art orientation in music education.

Dealing with art is a diverse process that is difficult to put into words. An important aspect of this discussion: art as a search for truth, as a search for the path to a human ideal. The disregard and disregard for the arts, especially among many young people, correlates with the fact that so many of them lack any idealistic worldview. This, too, is an important motif for art-oriented music education.

The music schools have learned to be many things in one: for example cultural center, school, service provider. The term service company is not so unlikely to me because it also clarifies something about the student-school relationship or the student-teacher relationship. The famous formulation of "bad student material that you get here ..." is not only a frightening example from the dictionary of the pedagogical monster, but also signals a capital misunderstanding regarding the question of who actually has to serve whom with his performance.

A service provider is committed to the market. The music schools have always closely linked their work with demand and with aspects of economic efficiency. Let's just think of early musical education: Certainly primarily a music-pedagogical project. But also a brilliant marketing idea: throwing a fishing net over a class of children and trying to get many of them excited about music and to win them over to music school. And economically interesting: every music school knows that this is one of the very few areas that can be run profitably.

On the subject of market proximity, Wolfgang König once described how the music schools are jammed in as if by a pair of pincers and put under pressure to perform: On the one hand, the parents, who pay high fees and therefore keep checking whether the child still wants to make progress makes and the high expenses are "worth it". In particular, teachers are forced to do a good job. On the other hand, the sword of Damocles, a lack of a legal guarantee of existence. As an institution, the music school is constantly being forced to demonstrate its capabilities. Wolfgang König said: "If it were on purpose, it could be a brilliant move to force schools to perform at their best in this way."

But we also have to know that we are operating in dangerous territory in the market. The market can be an eminent threat to culture if politics does not take the educational mandate seriously and actively defends it. This can be studied using many examples: The city and state theaters are presented with commercial musicals in the culture committee: “Why do you need such a high subsidy when other theaters can generate profits?” No wonder that those who think neither with Schiller nor with Schiller learned something from Brecht about the stage as an educational or teaching institution, but considers theater to be fun booths.
We saw another dramatic example of the disappearance of an educational mandate with the privatization of television. Yes - the radio and television companies once felt obliged to an educational mandate! I hardly need to describe where we ended up: fooling around as part of life; every afternoon, when millions of children sit unsupervised in front of the screen, the most unspeakable figures discuss the most unspeakable topics with one another. Now every day and on all channels, because the public broadcasters see no other chance than to participate under the quota pressure.
On the audience side, the new program content connects all sections of the population. For Thomas Gottschalk there was still an occasion for a nice punch line: “In the past, the intellectuals sat in the theater and the stupid in front of the telly. Today the intellectuals, bet that? ‘And the stupid, Big Brother‘. “Politicians who protect the educational mandate are very difficult to find today! Many enjoy a role that does not live up to their responsibilities: the role of captain of the state-owned company. As such, they can be provided with key figures in order to decide on a profitable state-owned company. What do you do with such politicians?

The audience rating is the most dramatic example of a major danger that has already been pointed out: Numbers, especially key figures, threaten to take on a life of their own. Every business enterprise orients itself on the key figures that represent sales and profit - everything else is tanderadei. In school - I mentioned it - the key figures (grades) dominate and, in a non-pedagogical way, push educational content into the background. The audience rating has become a brutal stranglehold - no editor in any medium can evade it. You must urgently warn against making the key figures absolute. Key figures should tell the responsible person something and have to be interpreted before a decision can be made on concrete steps. The big concern is whether the knowledgeable music school directors are always there when key figures are read and interpreted.

Committed to education

So, finally, are the educational mandate and the market two poles between which music schools have to be willing to compromise? The answer is rather no than yes. It would be a big mistake to ignore the demands of the market and the opportunities it presents. But the educational mandate cannot be up for discussion, nor can it be diminished, without the music school reducing itself to absurdity. That would be the bigger mistake.
If aspects and effects of the market can be combined with the educational mandate of the music school, they should be used offensively. Where the market and the educational mandate dictate different paths, the music schools must remain true to their own.
School has to please the students, otherwise they will not learn anything. A music school that has to sell its lessons dearly has to be particularly appealing. Nevertheless, the question: “What is going on?” Cannot be the focus. The key question of a school remains another. It reads: "What does it matter?"

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