We often witness occasions when the first reaction to new (contemporary) music is great surprise, confusion or even shock. This is because unfortunately new music continues to be preceded by old teaching.
Old teaching assumes that new music is a highly sophisticated art form for a handful of chosen ones, and that it is a set of specific musical works. New teaching starts from the opposite assumption; new music provides the most natural, completely free yet simple entrance to the world of music. It is not about knowledge of specific works, but rather a way of thinking and feeling, a direct, personal experience, an authentic piece of music and above all complete liberation from previous education.
~ Tomáš Boroš
The inspiration behind the New Music for Kids and Teens project was a personal experience with the performance of contemporary music, the reality of the usual repertoire in teaching practice in primary art and music schools, and the need to off er teachers a repertoire of contemporary music in all its variety, which could also be easily accessible.
This is how the three main pillars of the project were built: an online database of compositions, practical seminars for teachers and a cycle of concerts entitled “Portraits” which are performed in diff erent towns in Slovakia. The online database provides teachers (and pupils) with easier access to contemporary music which is, among other things, suitable for the education process (the compositions appear both on concert and competition podia). The seminars enable teachers to familiarize themselves more with the musical works of contemporary composers, pointing to the specifi c features of the composers’ intentions, illustrating less common techniques of playing or ways of notating music, and thus help them integrate the pieces of music into their teaching. The “Portraits” cycle of concerts is a type of synthesis of all the above-mentioned activities, and a platform where pupils, teacher and contemporary works can shine. The original idea behind them was to present the work of composers from ISCM’s individual sections. This succeeded in an exemplary way in 2013, when primary art and music schools across Slovakia prepared 36 music portraits with music from Chile, through Canada to Estonia and Mexico. We even opened the ISCM New Music Days festival three times with “Portraits”! We are delighted that “Portraits” are “living their own life” today and that art and music schools are organising them without major intervention from their original initiators.
~ Andrea Bálešová
As part of the “New Music for Kids and Teens” seminars, we hosted many education activities for teachers, the general public and children. The most intense ones were the seminars accredited for the further education of teachers by the Ministry of Education, “Selected chapters in 20th and 21st century music” led by Daniel Matej, and “Music as an act” led by Tomáš Boroš. In the “Chapters”, we concentrated on discovering musical works from the aforementioned period, analysing them and applying active listening to the teaching process. The more practical workshops also showed how to approach the study of a particular piece which we had analysed previously. The purpose of the “Music as an act” seminars was to open up teachers’ minds to a new concept of music teaching using specific methodological suggestions dominated by elementary music work, improvisation, play with sound – its organisation in time and in the form of music, the indissolubleness of music, movement, visual perception and dramatic action. The result was almost two hundred trained teachers armed with positive feedback and above all a desire to transform the experiences gained into practice. Similar principles are drawn on in the new project “Months and Numbers” where speech (names of the months and numbers from 1 to 21) constitute a medium for musical creativity with focus put on tone pitch – intonation, rhythm patterns and motoric interpretation of music.
~ Tomáš Boroš, Irena Lányiová
Discover more at the project website!