Of late I read in my national newspaper an interview with a 9 year old schoolgirl. She mentioned that it was so relaxing when her teacher started to play classical music during the lesson when all kids were supposed to practice writing. My first thought was: this must be an elite school. Schools in urban areas have firstly not the opportunity to do that (no equipment). Second, children will not be interested and the teacher will not have an education in this area. But then it came to my mind that when I was a 4th grader we had a very popular teacher who played the guitar on Friday afternoon, when we had worked hard during that week and sometimes when he wanted us to sing, he also took his guitar and started to play. By the way, I forgot what kind of music his favourite (in the mid-fifties….!) was like.

I don’t know how problematic the subject is in schools. Never heard about that from schools in the European countries except for the Netherlands.


The prejudice in The Netherlands is:   the Dutch cannot sing and have not any feeling for music. However, they have one of the best orchestras in the world and the famous Concertgebouw as music hall in Amsterdam. A television documentary gave me some explanation. It was during the 16th century’s uprising against the Spaniards, expressed in the shape of competing religions that the Northern part of Holland supported a certain religious stream (Calvinism) , which made them more insensitive to quality music. “Music was for joy” and there is the devil.

This was the start of a difficult relationship with music by the Dutch until nowadays. I am curious about other European countries. It looks like there is a close relationship between music and religion at least in Western Europe: the more music plays a role in the country’s religion/religious buildings the better they are in music and open for music in general. Is that true?

In the Netherlands teachers really experience the subject as problematic. They feel uncertain, not equipped enough, shameful about what colleagues can hear in the classroom next door. And there for some national initiatives – even supported by the queen – have been started.

Yet, I really think there is something wrong with this subject in primary education….

For me and many others there is the feeling that music  is a daily need…..Strange enough …except for the people in schools.  SSSSHT is a common expression of teachers. () Why is silence a common order in schools. I think, many people think music – especially very loud – is for outside, for the house painter, for the mason, for street makers and more of that type of jobs. And of course, for youngsters, they are also very loud.

Question: Have you ever tried to sing with your children in the classroom while doing other business, just because you thought : let us have some fun!

And then there are the European curricula on music in schools.

I checked some (Ireland, the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium). The best chance to make ‘noise’ and/or to make music is in the UK. It looks like the curriculum there is the most open for opportunities to make music, to improvise, to listen to , to do it loud, to make classical music. Don’t know if this is true. And it also looks like the British Ministry of Education, having written the curriculum for the schools, is leaving the content to the schools.

And then there is classical music. I don’t think that classical music is an issue in European schools. It is already difficult to have children listening to pop music, as concentration is the issue. Some say that learning to improvise is the solution (see the LTN magazine in the archive of the website edition nr.2/2010 ) and

But…my problem is that arts in general in schools are subordinated in favour of language and math.

And in your country? And why???    

See also

National Curriculum for Music – Primary

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