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Learning a musical instrument has long been valued by educationalists for its effects on cognitive development and its impact on social and emotional skills. But music charity executive Rob Adediran says that we are missing one of its most important collateral benefits: resilience. Adediran is the executive director of London Music Masters a charity which has taught over 2500 children in the past ten years. He explains why resilience might be music’s greatest gift to young people today.
“As teachers, the skill we most prize in our students is the ability to bounce back from failure. Learning is full of challenges and our most successful pupils are not those who find everything easy, but those who don’t give up when things get difficult. Having worked in music education for my whole career I am convinced that learning to play a musical instrument can provide a safe and effective way for young people to develop resilience. This is not the main goal – music is – but the cycle of struggle and success inherent to all effective learning is also foundational to making progress on a musical instrument. Music teaches children that ‘failure’ is an important step on the way to success. Struggling to master new techniques in a supportive environment, striving to make a great sound with peers in an ensemble, and conquering your nerves in a performance situation help children learn important lesson that we must persevere if we want to succeed. The children we teach every day in some of the most deprived boroughs in London will face all of the challenges that inner-city life can throw at them, helping them bounce back from adversity is surely one of the best things we can do for them and I have yet to see anything which develops this skill more effectively than learning to make music.”
For more information on London Music Masters please visit http://londonmusicmasters.org/
Teenage musician breaking the mould
Fifteen year old Betania Johnny stepped onto the stage at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall to perform the world premiere of Mark Anthony-Turnage’s Cleethorpes Chorale. With the composer on the front row and the 900 seater hall filled to capacity this young musician gave a flawless rendition stunning the audience and the composer.
It is not every day that a teenager performs the world premiere of one of the UKs most prominent living composers, but Betania’s story is even more unusual than that. Her parents immigrated to the UK from Ethiopia and had no background in western classical music. Growing up in inner-city London, the third of four children, Betania went to a state primary school that was beginning what was to become a ground breaking music partnership with the charity London Music Masters. The charity’s aim is to provide world-class music tuition for children in some of the most deprived boroughs in London. From the age of four Betania and her classmates had three music lessons a week. They were taught by young music graduates who were themselves mentored by renowned violinist and pedagogue Prof. Itzhak Rashkowsky. Betania went on to win a scholarship to the Royal College of Music’s junior department and from there her trajectory has been remarkable: performing as a soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, winning a place in the National Youth Orchestra and gaining a full music scholarship to a leading independent secondary school.
Ten years since Betania’s first music lesson London Music Masters has now taught 2500 students and has a unique track record of success. It partners with six primary schools in the city and provides much needed consultancy and short programmes to schools nationwide
Whilst few children will mirror Betania’s achievements, the charity believes that every single child deserves an excellent music education. Executive Director Rob Adediran says, ‘Good schools, music at their heart. I’ve yet to meet a head teacher who doesn’t want their pupils to have a great music education, and our job is to make that achievable.’
Beyond the performance opportunities, music has given Betania a voice and a determination to succeed, she says ‘Music has given me self-esteem and the confidence to express my feelings and opinions. It has also helped me to excel in my academic studies, and it has developed my social skills.’ Betania’s interests stretch far beyond music but whether she becomes data analyst or a violin soloist the impact of her music education means she is surely one to watch for the future.
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