Trinity of Arts Education

– get inspired! – learn! – do it! – 

To have no access to music and other art forms is bad! Only thing worse is if we have an unqualified, simplified and out-of-balance access! It may scare us away for a lifetime. How we introduce art to kids is really important business and should be taken up in a serious way with all the attention, focus and skill that we would put into any other professional endeavor.

To start somewhere we need to realize that bringing art to children and youngsters is a holistic task, and that a successful approach need to integrate at least three different spheres: experiencing/inspiration (I), learning (L) and doing (D).

Musikklode ILD
Full circle

Together they form a full circle, and without any of them, something will be missing, and the other two will not really work. I, L and D all have to be there to make it give any meaning. Take the example of a medic: The “learn” part is obvious with studying diseases, cures, anatomy etc. But also watching and being inspired by experienced professionals is a must. And finally: Only in practicing and doing it, makes it all real and turn you into a useful medic.

This is so obvious that it is almost embarrassing to mention. But we have to! It seems a human tendency to complicate things and forget simple basics in the process. So my objective here is actually just to remind us of realities already staring us into the face.

In Arts Education especially we cannot afford to forget basic elements like these. Many people still consider art a luxury in the educational system which means that there is not much room for failure (actually art is not a luxury as I have discussed in other articles). A qualified holistic approach is essential to succeed.

The danger of tunnel vision, where we only recognize the small area each of us happen to work with, can spoil a lot. If for example you help children make their own music, you need to be aware that they also need to experience great professional performances and acquire knowledge about what they are doing. Someone else may help them with that, but you must facilitate that it happens. You have to be aware of the ecology, you are a part of.

I – inspiration

A breathtaking experience in a concert, in front of a piece of art or at a theatre performance is often the spark that ignites our inner passion, and in some cases even changes our destiny. In any case it is a quantum leap on the ladder of development and learning. When we are inspired, our whole system is geared to receive relevant information, generate ideas and build up the necessary energy and joy to process it all.

Inspirational events activate the emotional and intuitive parts of our intelligence. It is widely recognized that emotions are critical to create the patterns that help us learn, and similarly inspiration builds a basis for relating to art. The quality of results we achieve depends on the quality and “richness” of our awareness and attention. Compared to reluctant learning, inspiration speeds up the process and retention rate manifold.

The ignition capacity is invaluable when we speak of inspiration, but it does not only matter in the beginning. In Arts Education and in all development and growth we start over and over again, entering new fields and meeting the unknown. In all these steps inspiration is necessary to fuel the process and to show us things we don’t know yet. Confronted with mastery we become gradually aware of how far we can aspire and get a boost to our motivation.

L – learn

To make a good experience stick and become productive, it must combine with learning and doing. Otherwise we are more in the entertaining business where things enter and leave our system without making us develop and grow.

Learning comes in many shapes, but generally is about creating patterns in our mental and cognitive spheres, that connect experiences and pieces of information to each other and making it possible to compare them, remember them and pull them out whenever needed. We understand what we are doing, and why.

A primitive approach to learning indicates that if you place the pupils on a chair and pour down information on their heads, they will learn.

TragtNothing could be more wrong. They may at best remember a few of the things that we want to teach them, but rarely much, and surely innovation and creation of new ideas will be absent.

Actually learning is a vast area, and can be described with a holistic circle of its own, indicating at least five elements that are all necessary to make real learning happen. Actually quite much overlapping with the I-L-D-model.

Learning circle

– Experiencing the world, phenomena, expressions, ideas etc.
– Conceptualizing them and placing them in context with theory, history etc.
– Reflecting on their meaning.
– Experimenting with them, testing, trying.
– And letting go of them in order to let the subconscious work (like the important pause in music)

Like a spiral, learning bring us through these stages over and over, making learning progressively deeper and wiser.

D – do it

Third element is where you have to act. Do it, struggle with the obstacles, marvel at the results, “getting your hands dirty”, fail, try again, succeed… Here we are involving physically with the body and the brain to make knowledge and visions concrete, manifest and useful.

Some speak of 10000 hours of practice to attain mastery – as a surgeon, a violinist, a painter, or anything. Though a quite doubtful and populistic statement, it indicates how much training it always takes to be good at something. There is no quick fix to excellence.

To make the effort endurable, it surely helps if you are inspired and enthusiastic about it, so it becomes joyful playful. There is a huge difference between reluctantly doing what you are told to do, and doing it because you are fueled by passion, ignited by strong and inspiring experiences.
So let us make sure that inspiration, learning and doing are always available somewhere in the ecology of Arts Education activities and programs. Not all the elements can be present in every activity, so for professionals in the field it is paramount to have a wider view of what is going on and a sense of understanding the role you and others play in the holistic picture. With such an awareness there is a good chance that Arts Education stays on the agenda and evolves the way it deserves!

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Be inspired / learn / go there …
Daniel Golman: Emotional Intelligence. Bantam Books, 1995
Howard Gardner: Multiple Intelligences – New Horizons in Theory and Practice. Basic Books, 2006.

Kunst og kultur i skolen – en investering der betaler sig

Ebbe Høyrup
Koncertdirektør i LMS – Levende Musik i Skolen. Desuden formand for Young Audiences Music Committee og medstifter af KulturPartner og Forum for Kunst og Kultur i Skolen. LMS er nationalt kompetencecenter for børns møde med professionel musik.
Artiklen er trykt i “Årbog 2015-16. Antologi om pædagogiske læringscentre.” KFPLC, 2016.”


Gnisten der tænder det hele …

”Musikerne var meget dygtige, og koncerten var helt fantastisk. Her er ord fra en kollega i overbygningen, som har arbejdet med det forberedende materiale, og han var også med til koncerten: “Det var meget inspirerende, anderledes og nytænkende.”
Tilbagemelding fra en lærer efter koncert med bandet Tumult på Englystskolen i Vejle 18/9 2015

Citatet ovenfor er et godt eksempel på den synergi, der kan opstå når kunst og skole mødes. Og det er et udtryk for lige præcis den balance, vi i LMS stræber efter, når vi sender over 2000 koncerter ud i hele landet hvert år: Vi vil gerne give en stærk, kunstnerisk oplevelse, som kan begejstre, engagere og inspirere og samtidig vil vi gerne have koncerten til at generere læring og være relevant for skolens vigtige opgave med at give eleverne dannelse og viden.

En kvalitetsoplevelse kan være den gnist, der i bedste tilfælde kan ændre en livsbane, men også ”bare” skabe nysgerrighed og interesse for at undersøge og lære mere om et emne. Hvis den åbne skole fungerer optimalt vil den løfte både læring, dannelse, trivsel!

Koncerten er kun ét af mange led

I tilfældet fra citatet – gruppen Tumult – følges koncerten af et undervisningsmateriale om bl.a. folkeviser, og vi har netop meget god respons fra skolerne om, at de kan bruge det til overbygningen, så undervisningen bliver meget mere levende og nærværende pga koblingen med koncerten.

Gennem det sidste skoleår har vi i LMS gennemarbejdet alle vores undervisningsmaterialer, så det nu er helt tydeligt, hvordan de knytter sig til kompetencemål, færdigheds-/vidensmål og læringsmål. Dermed imødekommer vi et berettiget ønske fra mange lærere om at gøre det nemmere at koble oplevelser med relevante undervisningsforløb.

En koncert, en kunstoplevelse – hvad enten det er på skolen eller udenfor – er altid del af en større sammenhæng, og kan ikke betragtes isoleret. Vi kan ikke tillade os at bruge elevernes tid på noget, der ikke giver en ægte og autentisk oplevelse af virkelighed, og heller ikke på emner, der ikke er relevante i forhold til skolens opgave – begge dele er spild af tid og ressourcer. Derfor er åben-skole-aktiviteter altid nødt til at mestre noget så komplekst som kunsten at forstå både skolens og omverdenens sprog og kultur. Måske kan det synes overdrevent, men vores erfaringer fra formidling mellem det professionelle musikliv og skolen gennem næsten 25 år viser tydeligt, at der ofte er tale om to verdener med to forskellige sprog.

Så når der tænkes i vellykket sammenhæng, er der brug for ”udvidet sprogforståelse” fra både skolen og kulturlivet. Det kræver en hel del af begge parter, men min personlige overbevisning er, at det er en investering, der ”tjener” sig mange gange tilbage, når det lykkes!

Hvad kan kunsten gøre?

Kunst- og kulturlivet må gøre sig umage for at forstå og anerkende skolernes kompetencer og i højere grad end i dag tænke sig som samarbejdspartner frem for ”flødeskum på lagkagen”. Ligeværdighed er et nøgleord, som kræver at begge parter kommer med det bedste, de har, og samtidig er bevidste om den anden parts kvaliteter. Kun på den måde kan man overstige sprogbarrieren og bygge på en reel forståelse af, hvad samarbejdspartnerens vilkår og situation er – og dermed skabe plads for et frugtbart møde.

LMS bestræber sig meget på at inddrage lærere i udviklingen af koncertkoncepter og undervisningsmaterialer for at være i samklang med målgruppen. Når vi måler tilfredsheden med vores undervisningsmaterialer ligger den på 4,4 ud af 5, hvilket bestemt er flot, men hver lille decimal, vi kan rykke op mod 5 er værd at knokle for. Sidste år så Aalborg Universitet i en stor undersøgelse på brugen af materialerne, og selvom der generelt var stor ros, var der også mange gode og lærerige hints til os.

“…det er voldsomt godt gennemarbejdet. Og jeg synes, at det er lige til at gå til. Jeg er faktisk meget imponeret” udtalte en lærer til undersøgelsen.

Det viste sig at godt 80% bruger 1-4 lektioner på undervisningsforløb i forbindelse med en koncert. Hovedsagelig i musik- og danskfaget, men dog også 10% i andre fag. Der var efterspørgsel efter at få mulighed for niveaudeling i materialerne, så der både var noget der kunne bruges til en kort optakt, der ikke kræver nogen forberedelse, og til mere dybtgående forløb. Desuden var der ønske om flere lyd- og videoklip, samt online muligheder for at eleverne individuelt kan være undersøgende, aktive og medskabende af viden.

Det lyder dyrt og besværligt, og det er det til dels også. Men det er samtidig spændende og givende at arbejde med, og giver den store tilfredshed af at ”swinge” med sine samarbejdspartnere. Det er mere en investering end en udgift.

Hvad skal skolen gøre?

Mange skoler har ildsjæle, der brænder for teater, musik eller andet, og Gud ske lov for det! Men ud over det værdifulde, personlige engagement må vi opbygge åben-skole aktiviteterne på en systematisk måde, som sikrer at erfaringer og viden forankres i organisationen. Ligesom kulturlivet langsomt, men sikkert, udvikler sine kontaktflader og sin formidling, må også skolen udvikle sine kompetencer i samarbejdsfladerne, for at der kommer tilstrækkelig kvalitet i ”den åbne skole”.

Forum for Kunst og Kultur i Skolen har foreslået en formaliseret kompetenceudvikling for PLC-personer, og det synes jeg personligt er en meget god idé. Hvis en PLC-medarbejder er godt klædt på til at vejlede sine kolleger er vi kommet et langt skridt. Det kan være vejledning i, hvordan man finder de gode tilbud i ”verden udenfor”, og ikke mindst hvordan man aktiverer dem som katalysatorer ift undervisningen i en alle fag, og det kan være viden om æstetiske læreprocesser og uformel læring.

Det virker naturligt at skolebiblioteket udvikler sig den vej. Ikke blot fordi bekendtgørelsen siger det, men især fordi udviklingen med flere og flere medier gør det oplagt også at have en strategi for det ”medie” som omverdenen i al sin rigdom repræsenterer. I takt med den voldsomme udvikling af den digitale verden, er det paradoksalt nok ”den virkelige virkelighed”, der byder på et af de største potentialer som læringsmæssig resurse, hvis vi forstår at se mulighederne.

En stærk faglighed i PLC omkring åben-skole generelt vil åbne for nye muligheder og skabe større ejerskab på skolen ift kunst, kultur og mange andre omverdens-resurser. Parallelt kan man så supplere med at skabe ejerskab hos eleverne ved at etablere KulturCrew, som KulturPartner har gode erfaringer med gennem de sidste par år.

Kvalitet, aktualitet og alsidighed

… det var de tre kriterier, jeg lærte om, da jeg i sin tid uddannede mig som folkebibliotekar, og de står stadig i biblioteksloven, så de har bevist deres levedygtighed. Kvalitet i kunstnerisk indhold, kvalitet i formidlingsevne, relevans, genrebredde er andre måder at sige det samme på, og det er begreber som det er værd at holde sig for øje, når man vælger skolens bøger, film, computerprogrammer, koncerter, forestillinger, projekter og andre omverdens-resurser.Her skal jeg til sidst lige lufte den bekymring, at når politikerne taler om åben skole, siger de også altid ”lokal”, og ikke ”kvalitet, aktualitet og alsidighed”. Det lokale har selvfølgelig stor værdi og skal inddrages alt, hvad man kan. Men aldrig uden at også kvalteten, aktualiteten og alsidigheden er med i overvejelserne! Vurdering af, hvad man kan trække på lokalt, og hvad man skal hente i turnerende tilbud m.m., er vigtig, og understreger endnu engang betydningen af åben-skole-faglighed på skolen. Både de ord, vi bruger, og de, vi ikke bruger, er med til at forme fremtiden, så jeg vil gerne slå et slag for at udvide sprogbrugen med ”kvalitet, aktualitet og alsidighed” i forhold til åben skole.

Jeg vil også appellere til at både kunst-/kulturliv og skole er opmærksomme på, at de må udvikle sig for at udnytte potentialerne i samarbejdet. Lad os tage nogle skridt fremad, og lad os hjælpe hinanden med det på tværs af sektorer – så skal det nok berige alle parter. Det er en investering, der betaler sig!

Watering the roots – School needs art #2

(This is the second of two posts on future and past in relations between art and school education).


In the first post I gave my opinion on the importance of art to make us creative, flexible and innovative in the future. Now I want to discuss another issue: the importance of art for understanding our background.

Layers on layers on layers …

Very, very early in human history man discovered (or rather invented) music, dance, painting and drawing. Patterns created by hitting logs and stones and whistling sounds from hollow bones forming into rhythmical and melodic structures, sketches in the sand etc. Man began to express himself and art was born!

All these ancient expressions run deep in our cultures and are essential for our understanding of who we are. Later on we became more sophisticated in means, methods and forms, but all the time building on top of earlier layers. Like a real good lasagna where the rich taste comes from a totality of all the ingredients piled on top of each other.


To understand ourselves, we need to be aware that our life is building on all these many layers. It is necessary if we want to be able to keep things as they are, as well as if we want to change them. No man is an island in the sea of history. So to keep some degree of harmony in our personal identity and in society we have to know this, and we have to embrace the foundation we stand upon.

Adding life to facts

This is where art comes in handy, as it brings alive the feelings buried in the past. To know who we really are, we have to turn to artistic expressions, as they show us the feelings of the generations before us. Art transmits a deeper level of reality and can preserve feelings and emotions over time so we suddenly get a feel of 15h century atmosphere when we hear a medieval tune, or get horrified by the war terror of 1937 by watching Picassos Guernica. Art show us the wonders and horrors of humanity and give life to the cold facts of the past and present.

My culture – your culture

In the same way, art can bring us a step deeper into the understanding of other cultures and be a key to identify with people in China, Greenland or down the next block. The world is multifaceted and it can be hard to even understand your neighbor. Art reflects that and goes beyond what words can explain. Of course it cannot save the world, but it can add understanding which has the potential of giving us a broader perspective of the world and the time we live in.

Art and school

School is there to teach us factual stuff, but also to help with what Germans call “bildung”, meaning helping us to navigate in the culture we are part of by knowing our culture. Therefore, school has an obligation to open more languages than just the verbal one, in order to help us grasp the world. Music is a language, dance is a language, all artistic expressions are languages, and each of them contribute to a deeper and more nuanced perception of reality. Compared to hardcore facts, art offers detours with a deep meaning – we may be a little longer on the way, but we cover a lot more ground as we go along, and end up wiser and more fit for life.

Integrating art in our schools is actually a duty each generation has to the next one to pass on the values that shape our society and ourselves. We cannot leave this only to the free initiative of well-off parents, as it is a human right for all. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child paragraph 31 clearly states that it is “the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life” – and I think we better take that serious. No other institution than school can carry out this task!

So: schools, get started if you have not already done so – it is so rewarding for the kids, for the schools itself and for society!

And: art, know your responsibility! Get out of the ivory tower and meet the kids and see what wonders will happen – for them and for you!

In tune with time – School needs art #1

This is the first of two posts on future and past in the relation between art and school education.

The change

Think back 20 years – not much in human history – but still: how different is the life of our kids today compared with then! Small and big screens now illuminate their rooms most of their waking hours, providing music and movies ad libitum, answers to any question they might have, live contact with friends all over the globe etc. Some find this terrible and some find it wonderful – it is a matter of taste and culture. But it is for sure one sign that the world is changed and still changing fast – one sign among many others. And change calls for continuous innovation.

School and learning are meant to make us fit for life. “Non scholae sed vitae…” And school people, politicians and many others are very well aware that something MUST happen to make us successfully keep up with the change in our world. It is just not easy to change the course of a supertanker, especially when you have no real idea if the new course will take you to the 10-year-ahead reality.

The paradox

That is why there is so much focus on innovation, creativity, adaptability, flexibility and what have you. These buzzwords crowd the skies and no-one will of course disagree. This is the one side. However, on the other side, we see that what really happens in education of our kids is often the opposite: Strict rules, regulations and standards narrow-in the perspective, and tests and guidelines prevail and dominate a “development” that is characterized by less and less nuances and holistic understanding.

This paradox is really strange. And even more so as we have solid empiric evidence today what makes people thrive, function happily and effectively and perform well. This is basic knowledge within educational circles, management, psychology, organization etc. But apparently our stone-age brain has a hard time to really keep up with this. We know, but we don’t really KNOW.

The art of arts

The arts have something to offer here. Art connects us to things inside and outside ourselves in a very profound way. A piece of music can open feelings and realities that we in no way can describe in words. A novel can make us realize and understand a situation in a much deeper way than a textbook or a newspaper article. A painting can open our eyes to profoundly new ways to see the world. They are surely “languages” without which we cannot grasp the total complexity of our existence.

Music, theatre, visual art, literature etc. are all expressions of the human fantasy, imagination and creativity. As such the arts are not only basic elements in our society since stone-age but also methods and ways of approaching and dealing with our surroundings on a personal day-to-day level.

Therefore expressing and experiencing art is something indispensable, and actually always have been so through the history of mankind! So nothing new and wonderful about it. But it seems we live in times where it is absolutely essential that we remind ourselves about this.

Arts Education

Unesco has tried to turn some spotlight on the issue by a focused process from 2005 to 2010 on Arts Education, but it has not created the waves in the pond which could be wishes for. Education in the arts, education through the arts, art as education, education as art are all concepts arising from this process. From 2012 Unesco has established an Arts Education Week last week in May worldwide. So again on one level we have a pretty clear idea of how things interact.

So what to do?

The million dollar question is how to be operational about the whole thing, and here are some very easy-to-use suggestions.

– invite artists – it is paramount that kids experience/see/hear/feel the impact of art and creative excellence can have

– let kids express themselves through art – dance a biology report – play a math solution – etc. And involve artists as much as possible

– make sure teachers teaching in the arts have are well educated

– involve artists, teachers and pupils equally in the planning of these events and projects

The artist can be the teachers best friend but it is very important that a true and equal relationship between artists and teachers is established. Artists do not come down from another planet to save the world. But together – with the artistic competences combining with the educational competences – the two professions can work wonders. So to politicians: please make the room for that in the legal framework and curriculums. Your voters – or at least their kids – will surely thank you in the long run.

It is not for free. Of course artists will need pay like anyone else, and introducing them will not save teachers’ time. But like any other serious business, we are here talking about an investment that we cannot really afford to ignore.


A small selection of links for inspiration … In the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child paragraph 31 speaks directly about the right for art and culture. – Unesco arts education main page with links to the Seoul Agenda etc Professor Anne Bamfords book The Wow Factor based on intensive research for Unesco has had a significant influence on the understanding of the need for arts education. Ken Robinsons more than 10-mil-plus-views-on-Youtube presentation on the subject. Tatiana Chemi: The Art of Arts Integration. This book deals with the subject in both a theoretical and practical way. shows many examples of concerts and projects aimed at kids in schools

… and hopefully we can soon see a site for YAM – Young Audiences Music project running from 2014 to 2016 with support from EU. For a brief idea check

Ebbe hav 2014b