Welcome to Soapbox – a series of short posts where I put forward a unusual argument about music, education, musical education (maybe even educational music?). Each post is a single bite and is not intended to cover every possible point pro or con.
Teaching Music Is More Important Than Teaching Math(s)
This runs counter to everything coming out of mainstream education, but it’s true.
One reason it’s true is that the skill required to do many maths problems is being rendered obsolete by computers. And not just huge MIT style, server farmed computers. The tiny computers your 10 year old kid carries around in their pockets and occasionally phones home on. Just like we no longer teach kids how to use a mangle, churn butter or shoe a horse, most people no longer to need to learn the kind of maths we spend days, weeks and months cramming into the heads of 8 year old kids. Like map reading, it’s a skill which the machines are now doing faster, better and cheaper.
Music creation on the other hand is not a profession that our robot overlords are going to be taking over any time soon. Programmers have succeeded in creating software that can listen to music, decipher the tempo and then tap a robotic foot along to. That’s as good as it gets. But the human brain can hear Happy Birthday To You, played fast or slow, on a piccolo or a bass guitar, in the key of Bb or F# and instantly perform the mind-numbingly complex equations to identify the tune without, you know, your mind going numb. We’re decades away from a computer program that can do that.
That’s decades of gainful employment making music with no threat from the machines, while the math dudes are asking “do you want fries with that?”