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We came across a government website called “Artfacts.” It has a lot of great statistics and facts about music. It doesn’t connect the dots very well, but it gives a great series of snapshots about how Australians feel about music, and how they participate.

Whether you are looking for singing lessons, guitar lessons, or piano lessons, in Perth, Melbourne, or any point in between, it’s great to know what other people are thinking. We’ll give our conclusions at the end, but the main lesson to take away from these facts is that a lot of people play instruments, and that many who don’t wish they did.

First of all, playing a musical instrument is perceived as a very worthwhile activity. Out of 1,000 Australians surveyed, 95% either completely or mostly agreed that music is a good hobby, with 93% agreeing that it is a good means of expression. 91% saw music as providing a sense of personal accomplishment, while 86% saw it as fun, and 83% agreed that it is relaxing. We won’t argue with any of those points.

Also, many Australians wish that they had learned how to play an instrument. 75% agreed with “I wish I had learned how to play,” while 49% would like to learn now. Only 26% saw themselves as “too old to play.” We know that it is a bit more difficult to learn a new skill as we age, but we are of the opinion that you are never too old to play.

According to another survey, 20% of kids learn to play music, while 70% of adults wish they had learned to play music. Of those kids who learn to play in school, many stop playing their instruments between Year 3 and Year 12. Another survey revealed that 30% of those who quit, stop playing by age 12, and another 30% stop by age 15. The most commonly-cited reason for quitting was loss of interest. Remember, though, that this is in school, and not private lessons. We will talk more about this in our conclusions.

Outside of school, approximately 20% of kids aged 5-14 play an instrument, and 31% play at least once a week. Playing an instrument turns out to be the cultural activity with the highest participation for boys, at 19%. Girls, though, prefer to dance, to the tune of 26%.

Also, participation in school is declining. Participation was at 16.4% in 1991, but fell to 14.6% by 2004. In NSW, another corroborating stat has surfaced: Year 10 enrolments dropped from 7,300 in 2010 to 6,800 in 2011, for a drop of 7% in one year.

So, what does this mean to you, looking for guitar teachers in Perth or Melbourne? There are a lot of things to take away from these numbers, but we see a disturbing pattern forming here. Could it be said that the schools are failing to make music education interesting enough to keep their students.

Why does it seem like more kids are playing outside of school, while school participation numbers are falling? Because the songs and the forms of music most schools teach are possibly out of touch with what kids want to learn. While musical fundamentals are a must for anyone who wants to play an instrument, the problem with in-school music education is that it is often based on classical music.

Kids are “voting with their feet,” and the “election returns” are conclusive: kids today like contemporary music a lot better than classical music. We feel that many students lose interest because they can’t relate to the songs being taught in school. We can’t fix the educational system, but we can certainly do our part as music teachers to make sure that people of all ages can learn the songs they want to learn.

Kids want to learn the same songs they listen to on their iPods. Those are not taught widely in the traditional educational system, because they are sometimes seen as “inferior” or “frivolous.” That is why so many kids play outside of school, and why people like us here.

At Monster Music, our teachers teach you how to play the songs you want to play on the instruments you want to play. Most kids would rather play their favourite songs in a small band with their mates than play songs they don’t like in a large orchestra or band in school. Most kids would rather learn to play guitar, bass, piano, drums, or saxophone than many of the traditional orchestral or band instruments.

Luckily for them, we are here to teach them what they want. For adults who think they are “too old,” we are here for you, too. It’s never too early or too late to play an instrument.

Comments

I was amazed to read the stats and now realise why I'm no Angus Young or Matt Bellamy or even Tommy Emmanuel! My only hope is to continue to play to the best of my ability and never stop learning...but more importantly ensure my kids have the option to learn the right way from the start....with my support and encouragement.
At least that way I will know I have given them a better opportunity than I ever had.
Posted By: Damien Hutchinson on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 12:59am

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