Common barriers for musical progression journeys

What are the things that get in the way of people fulfilling their musical potential, time after time? This poster depicts some common barriers for musical progression journeys.

There's a good deal of evidence that suggests that we're virtually all of us born with incredible musical perception, imagination and expression. So why is it that so many people, when you talk about making music (rather than listening to or enjoying music) seem to say that they wished they'd done more, and to say so with a heavy sigh of resignation, or, sometimes, frustration?

Horses for courses: some people, aged 1, or 6, or 47, prefer football, or sewing, or commerce, or being an astronaut. But the stories, and statistics, about levels of frustrated musical potential, and about children and young people who couldn't develop the musical passions they had within them, often paint a sad picture.

At a meeting of the Musical Progressions Roundtable in 2013 we brought together a range of music education professionals to look at the most common barriers for musical progression journeys. This poster is a distillation of those discussions and subsequent Roundtable discussions, alongside suggestions from the Roundtable and from several other discourses and meetings about what can be done to overcome them. Here's a list of the barriers...

  • Systems over individuals
  • Organisational preservation
  • Cultural preservation
  • Lack of funding
  • Not understanding infrastructure
  • Resistance to change
  • Adults' lack of confidence
  • Perceived elitism
  • Lack of time
  • Stifling spaces
  • Learners' lack of confidence
  • Measurability
  • Targets culture
  • Adults' own journeys
  • Teacher-pupil mismatch
  • Technique before creativity
  • Over-directedness
  • Fear of failure
  • Lack of progression knowledge

Download the poster here. Working with the Roundtable, we've also created a range of online tools for developing support for musical progression, which draw on these common barriers and solutions to them.

I host the Roundtable with Awards for Young Musicians, with funding from Youth Music

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