This weekend, the association of german music schools (vdm) will meet in the concert hall. The visitors exchange ideas for three days u. A. About music didactics for children and seniors, about the inclusion of disabled people and the state of music pedagogical research. According to the vdm, a professional and supporting association, 38,000 teachers teach at 4,000 locations throughout germany. One million children, teenagers and adults. Winfried richter, vdm chairman since 2005, is relieved after the congress by ulrich rademacher.
40 million music school users per year. Everything is going well with the german music school system?
Of course, it could always be for the best, that is self-evident. This is very different. There are countries where music schools are doing extremely well, and bavaria is one of them. Music schools are educational institutions that have to meet certain requirements, and only if these requirements are met can they be called music schools. So that there is no labeling fraud and the citizen really knows what he is getting. Music school is of course also a political issue. It goes without saying that people have to be introduced to culture, and schools do that in music lessons, but you have to start singing and making music in kindergarten, and when it comes to working with seniors, the music school is indispensable. It would be best if this were the case in all the states, as a matter of course. It’s not, and in that respect we sometimes have to take legal action. But I know that the people are behind this idea. After the war, citizens petitioned for the establishment of music schools. If you were to compare it today, it would be something like the environmental movement. People knew even more intensively than today that it is important to introduce people to culture, and not only to see profit, the consumption of music, but to make music themselves, to experience music with others and to form themselves through music. Sometimes you get the impression that if you say something like this today, that you are educating yourself, then you are looked at as if you were from yesterday. That is participation in the culture, and people will also demand that.
Are the sponsors, such as the city and county, behind the music schools, or are they struggling with shortages??
Well, we are an association of musicians, and of course I am not going to scold the musicians, but I am not going to tell them what to say either. The promoters are behind the music schools when it comes to politics. No politician will say we don’t need music schools, you can’t be that stupid. But there are parts of germany where money is tight, and when it rains through the hospital, you ask yourself, do you have to do the roof first, or do you have to do the music school first?? And that is the dilemma. Culture anyway one pushes then gladly something back, because one says, it should finance those, which participate in it. But what happens to those who cannot participate because they can no longer afford it?? The people who support it think that the cultural pitfall is not yet very large, as in the case of trench construction, so no one falls in yet.
But in bavaria it is still comparatively good?
With certainty. I don’t want to blame the others, who are also trying hard. The ball is passed back and forth between the state and the city and the district, and so on. That is not the case in bavaria, where they have clear regulations.
Do you employ full-time or part-time teachers??
Basically, we need a high percentage of permanent teachers, precisely because the field that is covered is becoming more and more coarse. 15 years ago, no one would have thought that we would have such a high proportion of adults, of seniors, to look after. The need is huge. Who would have thought 20 years ago that such a high percentage of music school would take place in kindergarten, in day care centers, because our society is changing, because both parents are working?? Then we have to see how the children can be introduced to music. Adults are coming to the music schools again, coming with their children to parent-child groups. Who wants to cover that can not do it, I do it as a hobby on the side. Even if he has studied and is still learning, he needs a permanent job. Two-thirds of the teachers at the music school must be employed.
Which clientele do you serve except children and teenagers??
The elementary music pedagogy in the area of preschool, but not only. A rough topic are the seniors. The so called early musical education has something to do with social competence. This has to do with language development, so musical education should start as early as possible. The amount of schools is just in this elementary area. What music school adds to elementary education is ensemble playing. Where the instrument is not only learned, but is practically performed in the community, in the symphony orchestra or in the big band or in the rock band.
There is no prejudice against genres of popular music?
No. There is no such thing as the good piano player and the bad rock musician. I say it from my personal experience. I had a piano student who now studies guitar and plays in a heavy metal band, and won the national prize in the "jugend musiziert" competition. That’s the way it has to be. Young people today have a horizon that is no longer so one-dimensional. Then there’s the cooperation with the clubs. If there is a brass band in the village, then the music school does not have to open another brass band, that would be nonsense. This openness has been there for a long time.
Your clientele at the music schools is recruited from a certain stratum, an income stratum, an educational stratum?
This question is a standard one. My standard answer is: if it is so expensive that not all classes can afford it, then it will be so. To counteract this, all music schools in the association have to pay a fee, up to zero tariff. Therefore, almost everyone could go to a music school. Due to the education card there is a huge demand especially at the music schools. Maybe not much compared to a sports club, but there are 50,000 additional children who come to the music schools thanks to the education card. The association of music schools distributes 20 million euros from the federation for education. If music school is pushed into the corner, you are only there for the higher earners and for the education bourgeoisie, then it is because it is too expensive for everyone.
Has the offer for seniors grown? A person retires at 60 and likes to play the guitar like jimi hendrix?
Exactly. There is. There is the senior rock group, my generation, but there is also the senior who says, I want to learn the piano again. When I was a kid, I did that a little bit and forgot about it again, that works great. But there are also people who have a dream, i always wanted to learn the piano, and don’t get there until they are 65.
Is it still possible?
Yes of course. If there are no real physical limitations, there is no problem at all. A lot is also happening in the field of elementary music pedagogy. Light clapping, moving, singing, drumming, things like that. But this has only emerged in the last ten or fifteen years. An adult learns differently and a senior again differently.
And the comparison with children?
It’s not that you can do it as fast as the children, the neurons don’t push through the brain as they do in children, but neurologists say: the brain can do it all. On the contrary, it is even good for the brain. But it takes longer, and due to their age they will no longer develop the coarse artistry. Although it is said that there are people who started at an advanced age and have achieved considerable skill. But what is quality? Quality is simply the experience, the joy. If a person has already played music, it remains in his brain for the rest of his life, as neurologists have found out. That’s another thing that attracts seniors, that they quickly come back to it. This is a great experience of success, they can not do in sports. If you stand up at 80 and say, I was once a track and field champion, you’ll probably tear your cruciate ligament very quickly.
One last word: the future of music schools …
… Is more important than ever.