Educators often face the challenge of introducing students to unfamiliar material such as a scholarly article in a journal or a musical practice from a cultural or social system far removed from their own. It is difficult to help students become invested in something that doesn’t make sense or means very little to them, so educators often fall into the habit of saying things like, “This is an important concept because it’s something you need to know; it’s significant in the field you’re studying; it’s something that’s fundamental to a big idea,” — basically, “this is important because it’s important.” But if we want to convince someone of something, we need to know how and why it’s important, not just that it is important. We need to examine how we can bring students through this process of understanding what we may consider ‘important’.
About six years ago, I moved to Singapore from the UK, where I had lived all my life. As much happiness as the move brought, it also involved saying goodbye — or at least au revoir — to Unlock the Music Singers, the choir I had formed and trained. My final concert with them was at the parish church in which I grew up and had been musical director, a building which boasted arguably the finest acoustics in Coventry for choral music. We performed Kodaly’s Pange Lingua, my favourite choral piece, and one I had fallen in love with whilst studying it during my Masters, and Purcell’s Come Ye Sons Of Art, which had become the choir’s signature piece.Continue reading “When conducting meets teaching, or the other way around”