Sunday, May 19, 2013

From Music Teacher to Magic Fairy Dust Practitioner

My friend is a music teacher.  She's put in a lot of effort over the years.  She started to play the violin, age seven and practised every day throughout her childhood and adolescence. She did a degree at the Royal Northern College of Music and then she toured with some of the country's most famous orchestras, such as the Halle.

Eventually she trained as a teacher (a year's course, the Postgraduate Certificate of Education) and has been travelling round schools teaching the violin ever since.

From the above I hope that you can understand that she had all the proper qualifications to call herself a music teacher.  She teaches the violin - - sometimes to small groups of children, sometimes to a class of thirty-five, with an assistant to help her.

She needs an assistant to help the children because really the violin is quite a tricky instrument.  Somewhat harder than the triangle, or even the recorder.

It costs me to admit this cruel fact because actually I'm a pretty damned good recorder player.  My violin skills, however, are nil.

On a recorder, provided you cover the correct holes and don't blow too hard (and, admittedly, some people find this difficult, at least at first), your recorder will produce the note you're aiming for.

However, it's a bit different on the violin - you have to press your fingers down in exactly the right place to make the note, and the only way to learn how to do that is to practice.  Lots and lots and lots.

But now, the education authority that my friend works for is planning some changes.  She will no longer be known as a music teacher.  Oh no.  She will be a Music Practitioner.

So - - - what's the difference, I hear you ask?

Where else have we heard the term "practitioner"?  Well, I associate it with those kind of Complementary Health practices.  Homoeopathy, where you dilute things down to nothingness and give them to people and the placebo effect kicks in and makes them feel better.  Indian Head Massage, where you rub someone's head and they find it relaxing and the placebo effect kicks in and makes them feel better.  Reiki, where you kind of wave your hands over people and channel some mysterious energy and the placebo effect kicks in and makes them feel better.  Aromatherapy, where you make the place smell nice and the placebo effect kicks in and makes them feel better.  Sprinkling Magic Fairy Dust - - - and so on.

No, you guessed, I'm not a big follower of complementary medicine and for some of these things you have to train for how long? - ooooh, it can be as much as a few weeks! - - to get a certificate saying you're qualified.

But hey, what, therefore, is the difference between a Music Teacher and a Music Practitioner?

A Music Practitioner can stand in front of a class of thirty-five children playing the violin without an assistant!  Amazing!  And why is this? - - - Oh - - because a Music Practitioner, not being a teacher, doesn't need an assistant, because a Music Practitioner is not actually going to teach, they are going to MAKE MUSIC TOGETHER and who cares what the hell it sounds like.

Oh yes, and by the way, a Music Practitioner is paid about a third less than a Music Teacher.

NOW we understand.