Five ways the Edara Method is different from your average music course

What is this method then? What does it mean? Where does it come from? Who came up with it? Why was it created? How does it work? Who is it for?

Over the course of the next months we will try to slowly answer these questions in a series of concise and non technical articles. But before we get started, we thought it’d be good to first give a quick overview of the main differences between an Edara lesson and an average music lesson, to give the people who are unfamiliar with the method a rough idea of what it’s like.

  1. We make real music from day one

From the first day at the Edara method you make real music, that is, music that you’d actually hear outside of a classroom, music you’d listen to yourself for reasons other than being dragged into a school concert. This is different from some music courses which start with ‘beginner’s music’, exercises, studies, scales and the like. They have their reasons, which may be valid up to a point, but it does mean that for a while, some music students are not making the kind of music they knew outside the classroom. We try to avoid this. Of course, we start with simple parts, but they fit into full arrangements that are to be played by students of all levels and teachers during musical performances.

  1. We learn music without instruments and very soon after we play it on many instruments

We learn without instruments, so we have one general way of hearing music that we can then use to play any instrument, or in many instruments for that matter. This is not an instrumental class, but we do give some basic instrumental skills (keyboards, guitars, drums…) which enable students to play many instruments in our ensemble performances. The fact that we learn music off instruments makes it easier to switch around, and it also allows for anyone to bring their own instrument.

This is again different from what you find in your average music course. You can have an instrumental lesson where you learn everything on one and only one instrument, or you can have a theory lesson where you do not touch any instruments at all.

  1. We learn music with the whole body

Even without instruments, we human beings have a lot of tools for learning music. We can make sounds by singing, speaking or hitting things. We can use our voice, our hands and our legs. We can make gestures such as hand signs or conducting. We can move around. We can write in words or in symbols.

The average music lesson only uses a few of these abilities, all too often focusing solely on written notation and passive listening. People rarely move up from their sits. They rely on instruments rather than their voice, and they do not often ‘speak the music’ or ‘sign the music’. At the Edara method we use all of these ‘body tools’, trying to make music learning as active and student-based as possible.

  1. We welcome mistakes

There are music lessons that are strict and do not allow you to make mistakes, and there are others that are lax, where you can make things up, where there are no such things as mistakes. Normally, you have to choose one or the other kind of lesson, but we try to mix the two. With us there are definitely such things as mistakes, but instead of repressing them we want students to make them, because they are an integral, almost necessary part of the learning process. We encourage students to make mistakes without fear, knowing that their will to play good music is enough motivation to use the mistakes constructively.

Learning in group sessions makes this matter easier, because it takes the burden away from individuals to be constantly perfect, and musical activities can carry on as everyone makes occasional mistakes (including teachers!). The fact that we make rhythm a high priority also helps, because it allows us to stay together when things go slightly wrong, and thus we avoid the chaos that would ensue otherwise.

  1. We learn theory last

Again, you normally have to choose between two kinds of lessons, as far as music theory is concerned. Either you have a theory-free lesson, a practical lesson where you play music by ear, or you have a theory-first lesson, which starts by introducing some theoretical notions, often on paper, in the visual dimension, and then this theory is applied into the world of sound, by reading a score, for instance. Along the way there is no shortage of symbols, conventions and codes that have to be deciphered, as conventional music notation is very archaic and complicated. Thus a music theory lesson often ends up looking like a maths lesson.

Now we do not choose either of these options. We do want to learn music theory, but we do not want start with it. Instead, we begin with a simplified notation, a ‘theory-light’ notation, so we can get on with the business of making music straight away, and at the end of the process, we translate the simplified notation into conventional music notation. More generally, we focus on learning music, you know, the thing that we hear with our ears, and only later we try to analyse and theorise about it. We think that this is the only way that music theory is properly understood, and that it is definitely a lot more fun.

 

Note:

We compared the Edara Method with an average music course, not with every music course out there. We do not claim that no one else does any of the five things we said we do. Nevertheless, it’s not easy to find a music course that does all the five things at once. For instance, the Kodàly method does emphasize learning real vocal music (1) and using gestures (3) but doesn’t concern itself much with theory (5) or instrumental playing (2).

  4 comments for “Five ways the Edara Method is different from your average music course

  1. June 23, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    I love the Edara method. It is precisely what the world needs to break through the barriers of western music teaching methods. Well done!

  2. Zac Gvirtzman
    July 1, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    I think this is a great method for giving a foundation in music and particularly the kind of music you can make with other people. Having heard some of the students’ end of term concerts, I was most impressed by the way they played as an ensemble with the same conception of the music they were making even though as individual players they were still in an early stage of development. This is a quality that usually only comes with a greater level of experience and even then not always!

    Having started out as a self-taught musician, I enjoyed some of the elements of musical education that EDARA has to offer like learning music that I knew and liked, embracing my mistakes, being able to try different instruments and being free to explore the theoretical aspects of what I was learning. Looking back, I have come to value those freedoms a lot which I probably would not have had if I had had a more conventional musical education. In particular, I feel that those experiences gave me a broader sense of what music is and can be, opened the door to playing and appreciating many different kinds of music and helped me to appreciate the social value of music making.

    We need more of this sort of initative in a world where people are so often turned off from making music by being given music to learn that doesn’t interest them, being told they don’t have the right kind of ‘talent’ to be a virtuoso or just not being given the opportunity to engage with music in the inspiring way that those of us lucky enough to have found it know it can be.

  3. Guillermo Montero Melis
    July 7, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Having devoted many years to studying the technical skills of trumpet, I realise how much I would have benefited from an approach such as Edara. I always postponed the moment of playing real music (music that would have been fun to play with other people) because I felt I was not yet ripe to do that. It is clear to me that Edara’s playing real music from day one is the right way to go. It emphasises the social value of making (building) music together with other people. This is a skill in itself, probably in turn composed of hundreds of skills. And crucially, playing music with others should be the driving force for technical development, and not the other way round (as I mistakenly and implicitly assumed for years). It seems to me that Edara has succeeded in creating a teaching method that selects the right elements, puts them in the right order and gives each of them the right emphasis.

  4. Profile photo of Cesc Marco
    July 11, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Thanks for the compliments guys, that’s what I call support… The next post will deal with something you all touched upon, namely, why we bother setting up a method in the first place.

    It’s interesting that when people praise the method, they precede it with a criticism with the conventional way of learning music. I wonder if this just a turn of phrase, or if there is a general discontent with music education in general, or if Edara just happens to attract people with such opinions. I myself find it hard to avoid this turn of phrase. I try to avoid it because it’s perceived as bad taste to criticise others in order to put one’s own views forward, but it does take a great effort to rephrase in purely “positive” terms.

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