Opera “too difficult”?

Steven Berryman

I read Susan Elkin’s piece for The Independent, ‘Why are educationists so afraid of cultural excellence?’ with much nodding of my head. I am particularly passionate about promoting living artists in my teaching – right from Year 4 upwards – and also ensuring pupils are engaging with as much music as they can, from a broad range of styles. No dumbing down.

Why can’t we celebrate that which is great with children rather than apologetically putting them off? Any teacher could familiarise children with, say, The Marriage of Figaro by playing recordings (all those fabulous tunes) sharing film and working on the story. You can appreciate opera without necessarily buying an expensive ticket. And for those who want to take children to see opera at first hand, almost every opera house has an enthusiastic education department and many of them stage events for children. School-based projects are quite usual and…

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