Practical Suggestions for the Music Teacher of Older Students (Middle School, High School, College, University)

You may not be able to make students like various styles of music that they dislike now.
But you may be able to help them dislike those styles less than they did before--
and that just might be enough . . .

A Simple and Practical Way to Integrate Music into the Elementary and Pre-School Classroom
by Brent Hugh
brent [at]
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Introducing New Musical Styles: Observations and Suggestions

For students in high school and college, it may be very difficult to spark students' initial interest in new styles of music that are completely foreign to the students' already well developed sense of musical taste and an approach such as that suggested by Fung may be the only one that will succeed with the majority of students.

Listening is a core musical skill--perhaps the most valuable musical skill of all.

This brings up a good and practical goal for teachers, however. You may not be able to make students like various styles of music. But you may be able to make them dislike the music less than they did before.

And that might be enough. Art music, for instance, is generally written by and for adults. Subjects, ideas, and the general maturity level of art music are a good fit for adults and a worse fit for adolescents. If adolescents can tone down their dislike for art music just a little, then when they become adults with interest that better match those of art music, that may be just enough to tip the balance.

Develop the "Inner Musician" by Singing

--Brent Hugh


Hargreaves, D. J., Comber, C., & Colley, A. (1995). Effects of age, gender, and training on musical preferences of British secondary school students. Journal of Research in Music Education, 43(3), 242-250.

Fung, C. K. V. (1994b). College students' preferences for world musics. Contributions to Music Education 21, 46-63.

Gordon, E. (2000, October). What is audiation? Lecture given at the World Piano Pedagogy Convention, Las Vegas, Nevada. Notes in my possession. See also

These ideas are based on my research into music preference over the lifespan. More ideas, information and references relating to this research can be found at Some songs I have written to us with young people are available for free download at Email: