Blog / Rachel Scott Defends the Arts

Rachel Scott Defends the Arts

Posted on 20 May 2013 by ACO Marketing

Love of footy is no bar to music

“BY any objective test, classical music, opera and ballet are insufferably boring.” – Mark Latham

THE Australian Children’s Music Foundation inspires creativity, joy and hope by providing free music education and instruments to disadvantaged children and youth at risk. All sorts of teachers use all types of music to engage children. As a classically trained cellist, I base my teaching around classical music. I teach in various disadvantaged primary schools. Tough inner-city kids. Diehard footy fans. Kids who shoot things.

It was with horror that I read what Mark Latham’s has written on “the culture wars”.

No one can write about classical music having “no social worth” and say “most footy fans would rather cut off their fingers than swap their jerseys and scarves for a seat at the SSO” without expecting someone to hold them to account.

The children I teach sit transfixed watching an animated score of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring for more than 20 minutes. The lessons they learn about focus and listening will help them in numerous facets of their life, but perhaps Latham thinks that doesn’t matter.

The kids I teach have seen more in their short lives than I have. But when Haydn’s The Joke quartet evokes joy and hilarity among them, they aren’t laughing at anyone or being unkind. They are simply enjoying a musical joke. Should they perhaps laugh at someone making a mistake on the footy field? Would that be more appropriate?

Learning to play the violin or cello teaches any child delayed gratification, focus, patience, listening skills and better motor skills, and enhances reading ability. Children exposed to classical music have better brain development, focus better, solve problems more keenly; there are hundreds of studies that show the benefits.

Does Latham think that children from a low socioeconomic background wouldn’t understand or appreciate classical music? Most of my diehard Rabbitohs fans would love to see an orchestra. Hordes of children have come with me to an Australian Chamber Orchestra concert. They clapped and cheered and were delighted and amazed.

The social lessons learned from these concerts and workshops are enormous. I worry that Latham thinks people can only like either football or classical music.

I suspect he doesn’t really know what he is talking about. I will leave alone his other comments. I am no expert on politics. But I do know about classical music and teaching kids music. It is not something that has “no social worth”. He has talked to the wrong footy fans.

Mr Latham, why not visit one of my schools? See these footy-mad kids responding to classical music. Wear your footy scarf. And prepare to be surprised.

You might find yourself enjoying the music.

Rachel Scott, a cellist, works in primary schools with the Australian Chamber Orchestra

This column first appeared in The Australian on May 20.


Mark Latham’s full column first appeared on the Chifley Research Centre website: