Alright Stop! Collaborate and Listen….

Vanilla Ice was right. That’s what we all need to do.

One of the things that we like to talk about a lot in schools is collaboration. Team work. It takes a village. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts and all that. Yet how often do we get to witness examples of what this really looks like on a daily basis? I am motivated to write a little something on this topic after having just returned from a high school music concert. It was the last one for our grade 12s, and so a rather special occasion. It felt like one. I am writing to share my thoughts with those of you that missed it. For those who like to talk about the importance of collaboration and who try to make sense of what that means in practice, but who don’t get to see the wonder of it going on right in front of us.

Making music is one of the most powerful collaborative learning experiences that there is. When you play as a group, a double act or in an ensemble, you are dependent on the others around you, and they are dependent on you. There is no room for ego or flying solo. There is no room for a momentary lapse. The music – making happens in the here and now, no faking it, no holding back. I often wonder at the capacity for human beings to be able to work wonders when we get ourselves together, and this concert was testament to that. Witnessing the catching of an eye, the changing of a tempo, a nod of the head, a smile; all of these make music-making unique. Who knew that the youths of today would choose to pay homage to some classic tunes from their teachers’ teenage years and that they would dress in outfits that look like something from a 90s episode of ‘Top of the Pops’? Who knew that a bunch of unassuming young people could entertain an audience for almost two and a half hours with their eclectic musical tastes?

I did know it actually, because I have been part of and witness to the efforts of music students for a number of years now. I have seen what music – making can do for those who choose it and stick with it. I have seen the different characters come together and find their own personal niche. I have seen how young people transform over the years, leaving school as a different self. Making music is really a gift that should be treasured. There is nowhere else where collaboration has a truer meaning. Come along next time. Take a peek into that world; better still, be part of it!

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