The issue of music being fun has been brought to mind through several different sources.
First, it’s no secret that classrooms have become less fun in recent years. It’s true that students may always complain about school not being fun, but now experienced teachers are now protesting as well. Many fun, creative lesson plans have been eliminated because they don’t fit into today’s curriculum. The word “enrichment” has come to mean “dispensable.”
As music teachers, we are fortunate that for the most part, we have a certain level of control over what we teach and how we teach it. I hope to make the most of that freedom by keeping the experience fun for students.
Second, I have been reminded about how fun music can be by those outside the traditional band/orchestra setting. (More about this in future posts.) For now I’ll just say that when adult amateur musicians talk about playing, they talk about how fun it can be. By contrast, sometimes I find myself getting too stressed out by learning or teaching music, so I know my perspective is off.
Third, I’ve been reading about the importance of laughter. Laughing has all kinds of benefits which I won’t get into here. It seems laughing even has health benefits, releasing endorphins and possibly reducing toxins in our bodies. In the classroom, sharing a laugh can break down the psychological defenses students build up when they’re in stressful environments. In brief, laughing can free us up to learn more effectively.
Finally, when you hear people talk about past musical experiences, their eyes often light up as they talk about how fun it was. Whether it’s an adult reminiscing about their musical past, a high schooler talking about their elementary music experience, or a group of performers who have just come off the stage, people love to talk about how much fun they’ve had making music. If you’ve read Steven Covey’s work, you know about beginning with the end in mind. I want the end to be students having fun.
Sure, all of this fun needs to be balanced with discipline, developing new skills, learning new concepts, being challenged, etc. Personally, I’m not worried about forgetting to teach those concepts in classes. But I want to remember to have fun along the way.