Documentaries on inspiring music education
January 11, 2012 7:22 PM   Subscribe

What are the most inspiring, exciting documentaries on music education?

I'm looking for documentaries about learning music, teaching music, music education, becoming a professional musician. I'm most interested in the question: "What are the most effective ways to teach music?"
Bonus points if it's modern and tech-oriented - but not necessary.

Have you seen a film or documentary which sparked interesting thoughts along these lines?
posted by ChristopherS to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Si sos brujo is about the founding of a training orchestra for young musicians to learn old tango orchestra styles from the (few, rapidly aging) remaining musicians who played in those ensembles. I think it's the best documentary film about how tango musicians do what they do generally, and there's a lot of very moving footage of oral/aural traditions being transmitted across a generation gap.
posted by dr. boludo at 7:28 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

This film about the famous Venezuelan system of youth orchestras is also quite good.
posted by dr. boludo at 7:30 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ha. Just came in to recoment "El Sistema" and was beaten to the punch!
posted by drlith at 7:32 PM on January 11, 2012

And this is a fascinating look -- before and after the 2010 earthquake -- at a couple of music schools in Haiti that do remarkable work under incredibly challenging circumstances(disclosure: I have been involved with these programs in the past and know many of the people on and off camera involved in making this film).
posted by dr. boludo at 7:33 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think that 'Rock School' is exactly the wrong way to teach music, but it does "spark interesting thoughts along these lines"
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:23 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know if a series about putting together school and community choirs falls under this umbrella, but Gareth Malone and BBC's The Choir is a really great and uplifting show. Not religious at all, if I recall correctly.
(And that's coming from someone with no previous interest in choirs whatsoever.)
posted by Glinn at 10:34 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

The UK series Faking It had an interesting edition about a cellist from the Royal College of Music who had to to pass herself off as a house music DJ in front of an expert audience. What was interesting to me was how many of her skills were able to transfer from one world to the other.

There was a recent BBC documentary about Charles Hazlewood's attempt to have the 1812 overture performed at the Proms using an orchestra using instruments made entirely of scrap. Could not find this online - but you can listen to the results. Interesting because it features people who are absolutely at the top of their game when it comes to making or playing on their instruments.

The BBC also did a series called Maestro in which various celebrities had to train and perform as conductors. Several excerpts at the link.
posted by rongorongo at 11:14 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also Howard Goodalls's 2006 series "How Music Works" is good. Here is the edition on Harmony for example.
posted by rongorongo at 11:21 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

THUNDER SOUL (D: Mark Landsman) is not modern or tech-oriented, but it's definitely inspiring.

Here's a description:

Alumni from Houston's storied Kashmere High School Stage Band return home after 35 years to play a tribute concert for their beloved band leader who turned the struggling jazz band into a world-class funk powerhouse in the early 1970s.
posted by lulu68 at 6:07 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

This isn't a documentary, but there are several YouTube videos. His enthusiasm is incredible! And he obviously instructs with an interesting variety of today's songs.
posted by foxhat10 at 6:45 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Fantastic, thank you all!
posted by ChristopherS at 5:02 PM on January 14, 2012

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