Music lessons, not that important in Mexico

Arts and music education in Mexico are believed to be less important than other subjects, according to music teachers
Children learning music in Guanajuato – Photo: Adrián Hernández/EL UNIVERSAL
14/02/2018
11:13
Sarai Cabral
Mexico City
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The challenges arts and music education face in Mexico are complex just like its solutions, yet teachers agree that it's in the classrooms where efforts need to be strengthened both, in how to modify the perception of the importance of learning all disciplines, and how to teach them.

Laura Monroy, a violin player from Bogotá, claims the problem is a regional one. Similarly to Colombia, in Mexico Art and Music are considered “filler” classes, thought to be less important than, say, Mathematics or Spanish. Thus, students grow up with that idea in mind.

Yet Monroy also acknowledges teachers are also responsible for that misguided perception since they should also be more aware of the role they play in the formation of their students.

Eloisa Lafuente, who has been teaching for 22 years at the National Dance School “Nellie y Gloria Campobello,” and the School of Artistic Initiation 2 of the National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA), agrees.

Art subjects “have virtually disappeared or have been left in the hands of poorly trained teachers because there aren't enough people with a thorough teaching training,” claims Lafuente, who is quite skeptical about Mexico's new education reform. “The new education model, based on the evaluation of teachers under threat of losing their job, if it were to work out, it would show results on a very long term,” she states, claiming she fails to see “an important place” for music education in this new system.

Employment for music teachers is also challenging. Monroy, 27, has worked in several academies and schools, in addition to teaching private lessons. She says Bogotá has many artists but “the city cannot support them all, wages aren't fair and work is unstable.”

“There's a lot still left to do on dignifying art as a profession, and on the teaching of art,” concludes Lafuente.

Why learn Music?

Laura Monroy excitedly remembers the year and a half she worked for a scholar project of the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra, aimed at teaching music to underprivileged children, for free.

Her students came from “marginalized neighborhoods” and while it was the first time many saw and held a musical instrument, the lessons managed to change their perspective. The children understood then that Music was a serious discipline.

Monroy stresses the importance of teaching children Music is also helpful for other areas, as music “develops many skills in the brain that no other discipline will: this can help them with other subjects.” Moreover, she says students learn and improve their sense of responsibility, teamwork capabilities, concentration ability, and fine motor skills.

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