C.Ph.E. Bach: Everything for music

NOTNine students sit in a semicircle of the advanced music class at the Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Gymnasium in Berlin. The music teacher shows a short excerpt from the film Amadeus: the emperor discusses with his advisers whether Mozart should be allowed to write an opera called “Figaro” or not. Beaumarchais’ play of the same name had caused unrest in Paris. “I’m a vulgar person, but I assure you my music is not,” the shrill Amadeus says in the film. First, music teacher Jens Renger clarifies in a joint discussion with the students what the argument is about. The excerpt from the short film served only as an introduction to the lesson. Spending an entire lesson on film is reluctant for most students here. They are demanding and must be stingy with their time because they invest a lot of energy in their daily practice. Renger, who trains music trainees across Berlin, practices what education researchers call cognitive activation classes.

Heike Schmoll

Political correspondent in Berlin, responsible for the “Bildungswelten”.

After an initial introductory discussion, the pupils write on worksheets at the learning stations information on the social origin, the contemporary context and the new genre of comic opera using the information sheets provided there. are provided. The lesson is part of the large thematic complex “Music in the Age of Enlightenment”. Ten minutes are allocated for each learning station. It’s absolute calm, everyone is concentrated. During the short break between double lessons, the lovers of the lesson leave to cuddle, while others continue to work on the tasks or have a drink.

Determined: Kyryllo with his saxophone


Determined: Kyryllo with his saxophone
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Picture: Andreas Pein

In the following double lesson, the difficult step follows, to turn the information into real arguments. Sometimes it’s too superficial. It’s pretty good, but still a little too superficial, the teacher lets a student know. Some argumentative clues for the defense of Mozart or that of the emperor are developed in the class discussion. But this is not enough. As homework, students must write a report for either side.

There are clear language requirements

A student clearly moans and asks how long this is supposed to last. “Stop complaining, you know perfectly well that we need this training. The next exam will definitely come, ”warns the teacher, who clearly expresses his expectations. If you only formulate bullet points, you will get 8 or 9 points. ” That’s enough,” says one of the students, but he doesn’t mean it so seriously. The advanced music course is compulsory for all students at the Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Gymnasium. still available as advanced subjects.More cannot be arranged due to limited number of students.

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