Developing a Musical Ear: A New Experiment

Unknown author (1972-07-01)

I would like to report on some ideas we have been developing at M.I.T. for self-paced, independent music study. The aim of our approach is to nurture in students that enigmatic quality called, "musical"-- be it a "musical ear" or an individual's capacity to give a "musical performance". While all of us cherish these qualities, rarely do we come to grips with them directly in teaching. More often we rely on our magical or mystical faith in the inspiration of music, itself, and its great artists, to do the teaching. And for some (maybe ultimately all) this is the best course. But what about the others to whom we teach only the techniques of playing instruments or some "facts" about music--its forms, its history and its apparent elements? How often do we have or take the time to examine the assumptions underlying these "facts" we teach, or to question the relation between what we teach and what we do as musicians?