I remember when I was in school, we used to have music classes for one hour every week- compulsory music classes. And at the end of the term or the year, each of us was required to sing a song in front of the whole class and the teacher, who would then award us grades on the basis of our musical abilities. We also had arts and crafts classes- drawing, painting, making paper models of planes and cranes and what not. I hated those classes. I hated music classes the most because that was where I had to face the worst kind of humiliation year after year. I sing like a crow with a bad throat infection. I am awful. Anyone with any knowledge of music would pass out cold the second I break into song. Not that I don't appreciate music, I do. In fact I love music. I listen to pretty much every genre of music you can think of, I am married to someone who is musically gifted, I have a sibling who sings like an angel and yet I have nothing even remotely musical in my genetic makeup. And every year, walking up to stand in front of my peers and belt into an off key rendition of some song, that if the teacher allowed me to finish, would have caused my own ears to bleed was pure torture.
I was slightly better off at drawing and crafts. I can make a decent painting with some painstaking effort and making paper models was OK but, there were people in my class who couldn't do either of them to save their lives. And even for these ridiculous "subjects" we were forced to learn, we had exams and grades. We were even awarded grades for physical training!! And to this day, I cannot fathom why. I mean people are different right? And they all have different talents. I have friends who are amazing dancers, great athletes, good singers, superb artists and good scholars. And on the very rare occasion I have found someone who is all of these. But that is the exception, not the norm. Why then, I wonder, are we, as kids subjected to such torture? Is it some convoluted attempt at making us "well- rounded" future citizens of the country? Then I have to say these people are sadly misguided. I have always believed that any talent needs to be nurtured- be it musical, artistic or athletic. But what good is forcing for example, an asthmatic to try and excel at athletics? Isn't making these kind of classes compulsory for an entire batch of some 40 odd students extremely ridiculous? Isn't it somehow sapping their confidence in themselves in one way?
I was and still is an awful singer and believe me when I say that every year the hardest thing I had to do was to go up to the head of the class and hope to God no one noticed the quiver in my voice or my shaking knees and belt out some English song that hopefully people hadn't heard before and get awarded a C or a D for all the effort. Its beyond unfair to expect someone with zilch musical talent like me to measure up to someone who has a voice like a nightingale and has been taking classical music lessons for years and can possibly make it rain just by singing a few notes. Its unfair to expect everyone in one class to draw like Picasso just because we were all taught by the same teacher. And it is again unfair to award some kid a D for physical training just because he/ she is obese or an asthmatic. Its not their fault someone else is an up and coming Usain Bolt and all they can do is sit on the sidelines and hope to cheer if the weather permits.
I don't know if the same system is followed in schools even now but I found it grossly wrong and humiliating for kids who were not as talented as their peers. Shouldn't kids have some say in what they want to do?Shouldn't there be a system where they are allowed to choose between music or dance or athletics or art or sculpture or playing an instrument or creative writing or whatever it is that they feel they can do well in or have an interest for? Its only the normal, sensible thing to do right? Isn't it so much better than forcing things that are simply not their forte on them and expecting them to take it in their stride? Isn't it so much better than making them lose their sleep over trivial things like the grading for "music" classes at school and forcing them to humiliate themselves in front of their peers and teachers in an attempt to salvage their grades? What do you guys think? I for one would wish to go back in time and undo all that torture I inflicted on my friends and teachers and even on myself by singing those awful off- key tunes. If I have caused long term hearing issues for anyone I am sorry. The system is to blame.. not me... :P
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