Thursday, August 4, 2011

RMM Philosophies for Teachers and Schools

By Mark T. Burke

RMM, or Recreational Music Making is not a new concept for me although RMM is a new term for me.  I think it's a great term, focusing many types of programs and the overall philosophies that the movement attempts to exemplify into a single, communicable phrase. I'm not shocked that I really haven't paid much attention to RMM.  As a past public school music teacher, I viewed RMM efforts with little value.  "Real music is taught in schools, by certified teachers" had certainly been my tightly held belief. Today, as a MAE (Music and Arts Entrepreneur), I recognize the significant restrictions my narrow vision imposed on me and my students.

Yesterday, I attended a webinar organized by NAMM on RMM.  There were several MAE's who presented their services and discussed how they are recharging their communities through their RMM endeavors.  They presented an incredible testament to the power of music with HUGE numbers symbolizing the people who've taken part in their programs.  By demonstrating how each of us has "the music within," and showcasing opportunities to set that music free, we can create better communities.  Better communities come from happier, healthier, more communicative, cooperative, adaptive and creative people.  Through RMM, those characteristics, or the skills that exude those characteristics within us, have opportunities to bubble to the surface.  The more those traits live on the surface of our expressiveness, the more comfortable we feel about them.  As you can imagine, this cycle is perpetual.

What can we learn from RMM?  How can teachers and school program benefit from learning about the RMM philosophies?  My thoughts are...

1.)  Music does not have to be about perfecting skills.
2.)  Music does not have to be focused on performance.
3.)  We all have music inside.
4.)  We are not all comfortable with letting our own "music" come out.
5.)  The making of music is what music is all about.
6.)  The quality of the outcome of making music is overemphasized.
7.)  90% of the population has access to a private music stores and services.
8.)  Most people say they would not go into a music store...they don't feel they have a need to.
9.)  Unlocking a person's inner music happens when the teacher loves to do what they do (ie...they love to make music).
10.) We spend 13-18 years in school but another 55-65 outside of school.

A few of these come directly from the RMM philosophy:  "Recreational Music Making refers to playing musical instruments alone or in a group without the goals of mastery or performance."

A few of the points above represent positive outcomes of RMM efforts.  Others represent challenges for us all, MAE's, teachers and schools.  For example, why don't people enter music stores?  For that matter, why don't teachers enter music stores?  (Side note...I visit stores often and I rarely run into school teachers).  When I'm at local music stores, moms, dads, kids, older folks, garage banders, strays :-)....are the common patrons.  Why should we care about getting more people into stores?  The answer is simple really.  When we love to do something and find benefit in doing it, we have wants and needs for equipment to help us participate in that activity.  We also want to surround ourselves with a bed of knowledge from the community, not just from academia.  We want to run into people who like doing what we do.  We want to talk to practitioners.  We want to share, even if we just share "that's my instrument."  Where can we do this?  Music stores.  This is just one of the points above and certainly not meant to suggest RMM is all about selling gear. I believe those who read this will see the bigger context to what I am saying.

How can we harness the power of RMM within schools?  I would love to hear your thoughts. 


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