Issue 14: Being a Beginner

For reasons which are too long to explain, I have started to learn the trumpet.

It must be very like being a child on a Wider Opportunities Programme. I need to learn, not because I want to, but because I need to (to help a student until a real trumpeter can come and teach him).

The instrument is not a natural choice for me. I play piano and cello, and teach or co-teach a variety of other instruments, but I have never had the least interest in playing brass instruments. At the moment it is hard work, makes my lips sting and my arms ache, and after all that effort all I get is a deeply unsatisfactory rendering (in every sense of that word) of “Merrily We Roll Along”

It’s a salutary reminder of what it is like to be a beginner. In fact, it puts me in the position of being an unwilling beginner, which is the case with quite a number of children in Wider Opportunities Classes. Indeed, why should they be feel happy and privileged to have the experience of being compelled to play and practise and instrument which they don’t want to learn?

So, what will they get out of Wider Opportunities lessons? What can we teach them?

 

I think that how to play an instrument is only part, and not necessarily they major part, of what we teach. Other skills, such as how to learn, how to be part of a group, how to be patient, how to persevere, and, for these children, how to participate gracefully in an activity that other people are enjoying without spoiling it for everyone, are as important as getting a grip on “Merrily We Roll Along”.

I have to leave these questions to you – it is time for trumpet practise.

 

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