Eminem
Image Courtesy of Flickr

Historically, there were many instances of famous artists becoming successful despite the fact that they did not receive a musical education. This is a trend that seems to be consistent even today. In fact, some of them received no education at all, and they were still able to rise to stardom.

This creates the perception that music education has no value, is “uncool” and even counterintuitive. However, as Jon Hockley argues, this is nothing more than a false perception that should be corrected.

Why is it that so many of the successful artists seem to be loud, outspoken, rebellious people when it’s this same kind of attitude that gets students kicked out of school? That somehow breaking the rules leads to more success than sticking to them.
Well before I answer this question, there’s a lot of things are wrong with the statement.
For one, you don’t have to be famous to be successful.
Secondly, loud people are more noticeable so they are the ones that are easiest to recall.
Thirdly, being successful without going to school is so radical that it’s sensationalised. Via Music Think Tank

Hockley goes further to dispel some of the strong opinions that have made their way into popular culture concerning the music industry. These are:

Myth 1: Music Education is unfashionable – unless you went to a fashionable school

Adele
Image Courtesy of The Odyssey Online

Adele graduated from BRIT school, and she is able to make life difficult for other musicians by topping the charts for weeks on end. On the other hand, Ed Sheeran did not go to BRIT school, but he does, in fact, have a background of music education, and he’s very successful as well. In fact, he’s a lot more successful than many of the musicians that shared a class with Adele.

Ed Sheeran
Image Courtesy of Buzzfeed

Some schools have better connections to the industry than others. Some have better teachers and some have big budgets, but the way I see it is this: Schools don’t make successful people. They provide opportunity, but the student has to grab the opportunity. Opportunity is the back bone of education and when ambition meets opportunity, that’s when amazing things happen. Go to the best school you can but never for one second think you will be spoon fed. Via Music Think Tank

Myth 2: Music Education is Counterintuitive

music star
Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Many people believe that true artistry cannot be taught and that studying music actually works against your creative abilities. While education may not make you a better or worse artist, it offers you experiences that allow you to grow in ways you might not have without the exposure. In fact, it may be argued that an artist that receives a musical education is at an advantage because of the numerous experiences he or she is exposed to.

The truth is no one is born a great artist. Your art is only a strong as your experiences, your interpretation of those experiences and your projection of those experiences. The only thing that is intrinsic is in an artist’s ambition and this can’t be taught. What’s wrong with surrounding yourself with hundreds of creative skilful people for a few years? There are many way to experience life but one experience can’t be better or worse than the other. Only the person who doesn’t decide to move forward, who stays in one place, who’s experience never changes, becomes the lesser artist. Via Music Think Tank

Myth 3: The qualification isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

Hockley offers a great counter-argument:

Music education is more than just the certificate. It’s the friends and people you meet. The skills and bespoke tuition. The creative environment and the specialised equipment. This experience is priceless and for the poorer ambitious individuals, state funded music education can be a massive opportunity. Via Music Think Tank

Alfie Boe
Image Courtesy of The Telegraph

But nobody can underpin the value of a musical education more than the successful artists that have received such education. A good example is Alfie Boe, who sang with Inspiral Carpets and developed his romantic tenor as a result of the classical voice training he received.

Earlier this year, Boe threatened to storm parliament if music education funding in Britain did not improve.

Attacking David Cameron’s record on arts funding, Boe said: “I would like to see some changes in music education. Whether that means me storming the houses of parliament with a group of my friends, I don’t know. I’d be up for it, because it is about time that this was recognised.”

…The tenor railed against the ignorance of politicians who fail to value the contribution music makes to Britain. “If Cameron hasn’t done it now, what’s going to be different in the future?,” he asked. “I’m not a big fan. It’s time for change. Music has to be recognised and brought on board. It’s their duty to rehabilitate society.” Via The Guardian

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