Music for Gifted Pupils
The needs of the musically very able
Pupils who are potentially very able in music need to be identified in time to allow their ability to develop and flourish. In many cases, talented children are identified and encouraged by parents. A great responsibility remains, however, first with primary class teachers and, later, with instrumental teachers and secondary music specialists.
This may include not only identifying, but also making special provision for such pupils. Pre-vocational training should provide for an early start on instrumental tuition; some flexibility in timetabling, to allow opportunities for instrumental practice within the school day, and additional breadth of experience through, for example, ensemble work and concert visits.
Exceptional potential may be demonstrated in too many ways to be listed conclusively. Some pointers include:
- 'getting it right' first time
- exceptional speed in memorising music
- an instinctive rhythmic perception
- possession of an acute sense of pitch
- a spontaneous and authentic creative impulse in performing and composing
- exceptional and sustained inner motivation for making music
- exceptional affinity to an instrument, shown, for example, by an unwillingness to be parted from it or by a particular ease of physical response to it
- an individual expressive personality demonstrated, perhaps, by a natural tendency to shape a musical phrase sensitively
- a high level of musical activity carried on out of school, such as spontaneous composing; an enthusiastic response to private instrumental tuition; or recognised expertise in a local band or group, rehearsing on their own initiative.
The recognition and development of such talent often depends on the perception and initiative of teachers. If it appears that a child has exceptional potential in music, it may be necessary for the teachers to:
- seek advice from colleagues, LEA advisers, and Heads of Music Services
- discuss with the child and advise on the available opportunities to study voice or a preferred choice of instrument
- help in negotiating the acquisition of a suitable instrument, for example, from the Local Authority
- encourage the child to take up opportunities for instrumental or vocal tuition which, we believe, must be available for all who can benefit from it
- involve parent(s) or guardian(s) in all these discussions, and to advise on the possible social, financial and organisational implications
- help in negotiating extra time for the pupil to be taught and to practice
- enable the pupil to take part in ensemble performance at a demanding level
- initiate enquiries into the appropriateness of applying for a funded place at one of the specialist music schools or junior departments of conservatoires
Potential talent must not go unrecognised and undeveloped. If it does, it is a loss to the individual child, for whom there could be a reward of a lifetime of great personal satisfaction. It is also a loss to society, which depends on such talent for the next generation of professional and amateur musicians, to maintain the vitality of our evolving musical cultures.