Copying pop stars 'is best way to learn music'

Education Editor,Richard Garner
Monday 26 November 2001 01:00

Music pupils should ape their pop idols instead of practising their scales, research suggests.

Listening to their favourite records instead of practising in formal classroom settings will make them more talented musicians, said Lucy Green, a senior lecturer in music education at London University.

Such relaxed lessons would promote a love of music which would make them more likely to persist with the subject.

Dr Green interviewed 14 pop musicians, aged between 15 and 50, about how they learnt to play their instruments. Most said they had copied the styles of their favourite artists. "Children not only copy the behaviour of adults and other children but make copies of objects which they find in the environment," she says inHow Popular Musicians Learn: A Way Ahead For Music Education. "The object in question is music, and its main form of existence for most people is in recordings and broadcasts. People have been learning music by listening and copying for thousands of years.

"If music teachers encourage children to train their ears rather than their eyes and to imitate real music rather than follow instructions, children will be more likely to play with confidence and enjoy it."

She dismissed fears that copying the stars could lead to bad habits. "The musicians I interviewed were able to adapt to conventional techniques later," she said.

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