Spells trouble

So here in Australia, thanks to Senator Fielding, we now know that ‘fiscal’ has neither 3 syllables (as in physical) nor a K.  Turns out that Fielding has trouble with language thanks to a form of dyslexia that resulted in his achieving only 29 in his final high school English exams.  His other marks were exceptional (all in the 90s) so this is not an issue of intellect, but rather of a specific aptitude that Fielding lacks in regard to language skills. Fielding was addressing a media contingent a few days ago, and after he had referring several times to ‘physical policy’ one intrepid reporter inquired if he didn’t mean ‘fiscal policy’. Fielding replied “fiscal – F-I-S-K-A-L” to the collective surprise (and then delight) of everyone in the media who knew that’s not how you spell fiscal. So now we have people coming to Fielding’s defence, saying “leave the poor bloke alone, he can’t help it if he can’t spell”.

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Is music really all that important?

Back in 2004 the Australian federal government announced that it would fund a comprehensive survey of music education with a view to making recommendations for changes to benefit school children across the country. Unsurprisingly (to me, and I’m sure many other musician-educators) this comprehensive survey found that primary school children receive not too much music education throughout primary school, primary school teachers do not receive adequate training in music education, and specialist music teachers are no longer being recruited to primary schools.  Most schools have paltry resources with which to provide music education, and most children do not have access to instrumental tuition.  There are exceptions: Queensland has operated a strong instrumental tuition program in primary schools for years, some private schools are as well resourced as universities (possibly better than some). So now we know the facts. Should the elimination of music in a child’s primary education be a cause for concern?  On Monday Dick Letts, the head of

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Lessons for years, but I still can’t play

Of the hundreds of thousands of children who start to learn the piano around the world each year nearly all of them will say, later in life, that, despite their years of piano lessons, today they can’t play a note. And then they’ll tell you about a family member who never had a single lesson and who can play anything by ear. This incredible disconnect between lessons and life-long skill doesn’t get discussed much by piano teachers, despite the overwhelming evidence that the hundreds of thousands of brand-new beginner pianists will not grow into adults who can actually play the piano. There is always the exception to the rule, and of course every piano teacher is one of those exceptions who found that piano lessons did help them become better pianists. And so they teach pretty much exactly the way that they were taught.  This even comes down to using the same method books with their students that their teachers

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