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MMD > Archives > February 1997 > 1997.02.09 > 01Prev  Next

Teaching Music Appreciation
By Beatrice Robertson

Back in another life, I taught music in public schools in Michigan and on Long Island. Bruce Clark's mom was a very wise lady, and I thank him for sharing his story.

All learning must start from the known and advance to the unknown. One of our biggest responsibilities as collectors and caretakers of mechanical musical instruments is to share our knowledge and instruments with those who have not experienced the beauty and excitement that we enjoy on a regular basis.

Any chance we get to show mechanical music to young people (that means anyone younger than us) should be taken! I'd certainly hate to take my Chickering anywhere, but the response to a monkey organs or drum & bell box is usually one of total fascination. And neither of these requires much effort to cart around. And that opens the door to talk about the music, and why that particular music on that particular instrument.

It is a whole lot easier to talk to children about the absolute silliness of some operatic stories after hearing a particularly nice music box rendition of one of the songs, without the distraction of the soprano and non-comprehensible words. And then, the door is open to explain the importance of the mechanical music and the opera in a world without radio and television.

We need to be more willing to share our treasures. With understanding to the piano and orchestrion collectors, those of us with smaller instruments have many opportunities to share our hobby. However, we won't be asked - we need to offer. Schools, historical societies, and nursing homes are a natural outlet, but so are car shows, local festivals, craft show, etc.

It is really difficult to get someone interested in something they know nothing about. The Internet is opening the door to many more people; MBSI has several new members in the last few months who learned about the organization form the Internet. But it will never replace a personal, hands on, "so that's how it works" experience.

Beatrice Robertson

(Message sent Sun 9 Feb 1997, 17:05:09 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  Appreciation, Music, Teaching

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