Why Techno Should Be Taught in Schools


For many children, the music they grow up listening to with friends, family, parents and relatives is often not reflected in school music lessons. So while their teacher is trying to get them to listen to Mozart, Bach or Beethoven, back home in their bedrooms the radio is often tuned into a very different station.

Improving access to classical music for children from deprived backgrounds has been a priority for music education and rightly so. Because there is no good reason why the daughter of a brick layer or the son of a shop assistant shouldn’t be enthralled by Mozart. But it is likely that for a lot of these students, rather than Chopin or Vivaldi, they will be much more familiar with a musical education in hardcore electronic dance music (EDM).

For these young people, this is “our music”, and overlooking this in school music lessons misses an opportunity to help these pupils engage with something they are already naturally interested in. For a lot of these kids, they’ve grown up with this music – their aunties, brothers and friends are into it, too. And their parents were probably ravers in the heyday of “acid house” or the subsequent years when “happy hardcore” and other forms of harsh, repetitive EDM provided the soundtrack for the lives of countless young people.

School music lessons, however, very rarely even acknowledge the existence of such music within British culture. In many schools, coverage of dance music might stretch from the Galliard or the Pavan to Disco via the Viennese Waltz, but no further in most cases.

Modern music making

Serious engagement with rave and post-rave EDM in the classroom is rare in the extreme. Even your classic mainstream dance music seems to be way off the agenda in most schools.

This much was clear to me when I provided training on using DJ decks in music teaching for a group of Teach First trainee teachers back in 2013.

Teach First sees young graduates recruited into tough, under-performing, inner-city schools for their first teaching placements. And yet despite the strong prevalence of youth culture and niche music scenes in many of these cities – grime in London or bassline in Sheffield – none of these young teachers had seen such equipment used in the schools where they were on placements.

This was with one exception: one trainee admitted that his school had DJ decks but, disappointingly, he explained that they were never removed from the cupboard where they were gathering dust as “nobody knows what to do with them”.


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