On Thursday, February 13, 2014, Her Majesty Queen Maxima of the Netherlands attended the opening of the conference, QUALITY NOW! Arts and Cultural Education to the Next Level, held at De Bazel Conference Center in Amsterdam. According to RVD, the conference focuses on “…the quality of cultural education in primary schools.”
During today’s meeting Her Majesty gave a speech. Here is what she had to say:
“Ladies and gentlemen,
You have come here today from so many European countries to discuss arts and cultural education. A truly inspiring subject. I would like to open this conference by telling you about my own experience. And, I hope that this will encourage you even more in the important work you do. My own experience, in fact, one of my passions, lies in music education for all children.
I have never met a child who does not love music. Every parent knows the power that music has over children. A lullaby makes it much easier to put a child to bed. No child’s birthday is complete without a rousing chorus of ‘Happy Birthday to You’. What is it that makes you smile when you hear the first four notes of the Pink Panther Tune? And who can resist the Cup Song?
I’ve seen how much pleasure children take in music. Above all when they play, sing or dance themselves. I’ve seen such concentration, such creativity, such skill and so much talent. And the force of their imagination, their teamwork, their pride.
Making music with other people involves listening to others and working with others. You have to develop a feel for the rhythm of the group. Behave with discipline. Take good care of a precious instrument. These are all essential skills children have to learn as they develop with music education.
Yet most schools have no time or room for music. Luckily there are many initiatives that compensate in part for this lack. Some are inspired by the ground-breaking work of José Antonio Abreu, who created his famous Sistema in Venezuela in 1975. This is a model of music education that gives children a chance to learn to play an instrument in a symphony orchestra – especially children from poor families.
Because I am convinced that learning to play an instrument has tremendous value for children, I launched the program ‘Children Make Music’ three years ago in the Netherlands. The aim is to help as many children as possible to learn an instrument and play music together.
Many organizations have joined forces in ‘Children Make Music’: funders, orchestras, schools and associations. Over the past three years the program has become nationally known and reached thousands of children.
One of the projects I’ve visited is called ‘Pop at School’. A teacher at the school told me that making music together is giving her pupils self-confidence. And because they have so much fun, they enjoy going to school a lot more!
In another initiative children have music lessons at school and they can borrow an instrument to take home and practise on. The children take enormous pride in what they are doing. They feel responsible for ‘their’ instrument and take good care of them. Music associations help with the lessons, creating a closer tie between the school and the local community. As they play, the children discover the universal language of music. ‘I can even make music in China!’, said one eleven-year-old.
A year after we started the programme, there was a fantastic ‘Children Make Music’ concert in Amsterdam, with over 3,000 children from all over the Netherlands taking part. The concert was a wonderful experience. They had so much pleasure, fun and they were so proud.
Last year 30 new local projects were launched, so we continue to grow steadily.
I know there’s more to culture than music. Visual arts, theatre and literature are all important too. But I wanted to begin this day by sharing with you my personal experience of the power of music.
I know how valuable your work is. So I look forward to learning about the outcomes of your conference. And I wish you two creative, inspiring days.
Please click here and/or here to view photos.
Photo courtesy of RVD/HKH