tobin music
Accelerating music literacy
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Tobin System
Candida Tobin
Tobin Trust
Music Rounds

The Tobin Music System

I have been working on this system since 1967, and have always maintained that music should be taught in the classroom alongside other subjects. Teachers are expected to teach maths, science, geography and many other subjects, but they are not expected to be scientists or mathematicians. In the same way, I wanted to develop a system simple enough for all classroom teachers to teach music to a high level, but not expect them to necessarily be instrumentalists.

My "self imposed" brief was:

a) to make it possible for the classroom teacher to teach the rudiments of music to all children in their class to the very highest level possible;

b) that music should be integrated into other classroom subjects;

c) that by the age of eight or nine, children should be able to compose and harmonise their own music and songs to the same standard as they could read and write words;

d) the system would be constructed so that it would not be necessary for a teacher to have to play an instrument other than the hand chimes or other pitched percussion instruments;

e) that, if possible, there should be a music specialist, either in the school or the county, to utilise all the work being done in the classroom by conducting choirs, orchestras and helping the teacher when needed. There should also be individual peripatetic instrumental teachers.

By the time the child is eight or nine they should be able to read and write music as easily as they can read and write words. Now they have a wonderful two years before going into their secondary schools, where they can indulge in real music making. The children are not constrained by too many rules of harmony but enough guidance to help them with music making.

As is often the way, although something can look unbelievably simple, a great deal of work and thought has been invested in the project to make it appear so. Because the system produces results so quickly, some people jump to the conclusion that it must be trivial. To many people music is not meant to be easy to understand. I disagree. Playing an instrument needs technical dexterity and a great deal of dedication and skill, but the ability to understand music should be accessible to all.

Candida Tobin, 2007.

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