TV Singing: What You Think

“Good and bad!” This is your overall consensus on television reality and scripted shows featuring musical performance. Scripted shows were viewed slightly more favorably. View results of the poll.

MENC members sent in over 18 pages of comments in response to the short poll posted last week asking about musically-themed television programs.

Many of you hold similar thoughts about these shows.

Common themes throughout the comments:

The NEGATIVES of the Shows:

  • Pop-obsessed vocal sound
  • Unhealthy vocalization
  • Popular vs. nerd images
  • Cool vs. not cool messages
  • Dissuades kids from participating in music due to critical approach to feedback
  • Limited repertoire represented
  • No educational value presented
  • Unrealistic expectations set up as to what can be achieved

The POSITIVES of the Shows:

  • Brings music into forefront/conversations, and anything that gets conversation about music going is good
  • Gets kids talking/interested/engaged about music
  • Serves as a tool to discuss technique, assessment, critique, what makes success, what really goes into a performance, etc.
  • Can inspire/ motivate/spark an interest in music

Below is a small sample of your comments, with a link to additional comments.

  • When these shows motivate students to enroll and engage in a music performance class, that is a good thing. These shows also provide teachable topics for class discussion such as vocal technique and repertoire.
  • For good or ill, these shows are part of contemporary culture, and music educators need to be aware of them so as to be relevant to the life experience of our students.
  • It’s a good thing if educators take advantage of these shows by discussing them in musically intelligent ways with their students. This can be an excellent tool for learning how to critique a performance (Idol) or simply introduce new styles of music (Glee).
  • Any type of show on TV promoting music and the performance of music should be considered a great thing to any music department. Since The Sing Off was aired, many more students in my school are interested in vocal music. To keep these students interested, it’s important to choose repertoire that caters to their interests. I always try to arrange or order some popular music for the students to sing at the end of the year concert. This is one of the main reasons I have so many students involved or seeking to join the following year.
  • I enjoy Glee for a few reasons. 1) It shows that music can lift you up where other activities can’t. 2) It also deals with everyday issues that many of our American teenagers deal with (such as teen pregnancy, homosexuality, bullying, fitting in, etc). 3) As a choral teacher, I relate to the Glee instructor’s problems with getting support for his ensemble both financially and otherwise.

Additional comments

POLL RESULTS: Of 180 respondents, 151 watch American Idol, 141 watch Glee, 96 America’s Got Talent, 77 The Sing Off.

58% of you thought scripted shows like Glee had good and not so good qualities; 37% of you believe these shows are good for music education, and 10% said they’re bad.

As for American Idol and other reality singing shows: 45% of you thought such shows are good and bad; 32% believe they’re bad; and 23% said these reality shows are good.

–Sue Rarus, January 28, 2010, © National Association for Music Education