Music education is a necessity rather than a luxury. In my view, cutting music education in favour of other subjects actually deprives a child of the learning the tools that will help him succeed in not only the subjects taught in school, but also in his general listening skills and social interaction. This has made me think about the importance of music education for children in our schools.
Music is the only universal language in this world. It is the first language that every child on this planet understands—the singing of the mother to the unborn child in her womb is the beginning of understanding the power of music. The first smile, the singing of every parent to their child, the rocking movement employed by parents as they are putting to sleep—everything has music in it. Even before a child is able to speak any language, it has begun to understand the language of music. A beautiful song brings a smile into the child’s face; the rhythmic movement of the rocking calms it to sleep. Why then do we not give music its rightful place in our lives? When I hear people singing the national anthem, I feel like closing my ears because each singer has his/her own pitch that he/she is following, happily oblivious to the others or the accompanying instruments. Of course, those who are exposed to music because of family or the parents ensuring that music is learnt will be able to do it and do it pretty well but what about those who have not learnt music? There is no dearth talent in our country. Why are we not able to utilise this talent to create a society that loves music more? I, for one, strongly believe in the importance of music in parenting. Music can play a strong role in a child’s character development. The first 8-10 years are the most important, as, in these years, music becomes a part of every child’s growth. The first 4-5 ears are spent at home. There should be some good music played all the time, even if one feels that the child is not attentive. The child is absorbing everything sub-consciously and learning even while paying direct attention to the music. Whether the child is eating, playing with toys or doing nothing, it is important to keep the music playing in the background.
The next phase in our life is when we start going to schools. Why can’t we have an education policy that will nourish the gift of music rather than take us away from it? Just like a child learns that A, B, C, D etc are the alphabets of English, why can’t the child learn Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha and Ni? Why can’t we develop a systematic learning of music similar to the way we learn other languages?
Most urban schools have 2-3 music teachers—a vocalist, a percussionist and a keyboard player or guitarist. The role of these teachers is to ensure that the children are able to sing a group song on Independence Day or Republic Day celebrations at their school. The percussionist is supposed to teach a bit of tabla, dholak and drums. The keyboard player is supposed to teach the child an instrument called Casio (a popular keyboard brand) for accompaniment at school celebrations. Is this teaching music at school? Music as a subject should be made compulsory and it has to be taught from first day of a child’s schooling.