Today we invited along Mark Robinson, the founder of Rocksteady Music School to discuss why music should be a priority in 2022. If you’d prefer to listen to our podcast episode instead of reading, just click here to listen to The Primary Music Show.
We asked Mark to introduce himself, and tell everyone a little bit more about him.
Mark: Hello everybody, I’m Mark, and I started Rocksteady Music School around 15 years ago, straight out of university. I’d been a music teacher for a time before then, and I thought there were things about music education that need addressing, and I’m going to go on an adventure to find out some of the answers that I’d been seeking. This is how I ended up creating and growing Rocksteady Music School.
Corinne: It has been a big adventure! Rocksteady Music School really has grown so rapidly over the last few years. You guys are everywhere now!
Mark: That was the intention! After a few years of experimentation and really trying to get the education as good as it could be , for building the whole child at primary age. I saw the difference that it was making to children as a whole, but for some very specific children it was life-changing. At the time I was teaching in one school, and a small handful of others. I remember having a clear watershed moment where I thought, this is really working. I now feel a moral obligation to get it out as widely as possible, and to as many children as possible. In the 6 or 7 years since then , we have been in full on growth mode to try and get this out there and try and make as much of a positive impact as we can.
Corinne: That’s amazing! So let’s get to the question then! If I said to you, why should music be a priority in 2022, what would be your first initial thoughts?
Mark: I think education is all about balance. I’m always really careful about using the word should. Someone will bang their fist on a table and say we SHOULD be doing this. You always end up with different factions of belief within an industry. I’ve always tried instead to do the uniting thing. I’ve never gone out trying to unite people by saying we SHOULD do this. Unless of course, I’m asking people who already agreed with me! I usually try to find something that everybody can agree on first of all. For me, education is about doing what’s best for the individual child and finding what that one thing is that will help the child grow in the most effective way possible. Certainly in the age range 4-16, children need a lot of opportunities to try a lot of things, to figure out what that thing is that’s going to really matter to them. It’s also crucial that if they do find something that really matters to them and is important to them, they then have a pathway for them to pursue it. We need to be providing our children with as many options and pathways as possible. If I were speaking to the faction that was talking about lot’s of Maths & English catch up, I would say that over time we tend to think about quite short term goals. For example, by the end of this term, we want to see this amount of progress. I would say that the journey of growing up is a lot more complex than that. In addition to taking care of a child’s ability to do maths and English and coming out the other side of the school, we also have a big responsibility to take care of their spirit. Do they have to mould themselves to a highly structured environment that’s around them, or is the world about something else? I think it’s good to do a little bit of soul searching and try to figure out the answer to some of those questions. After you’ve done that, now think about how you would redesign education now we’ve completed that?
Corinne: I think that’s something that teachers really struggle with. A lot of teachers find themselves set in such a rigid curriculum sometimes, they struggle to know how to branch out. It’s hard to find new and innovative ways of teaching particular topics when you have to mould lessons to a rigid curriculum.