WHAT IS “MUSIC AS A SECOND LANGUAGE”?
“Music as a Second Language” (MSL) is a method of teaching music conceived and propagated by U.S. guitarist, bilingual public school teacher and pedagogue David Wish. Wish’s central observation is that people acquire music in much the same as they acquire a second language. Wish founded Little Kids Rock a national nonprofit to help make the MSL Method broadly available to music teachers.
Wish posits that since all humans are hard-wired for speech and since music functions as a second language, by extension, all people are also hard-wired to “speak” music. The MSL method begins with the assertion that all people are innately musical beings and that music education is more about drawing music out of individuals as opposed to drumming it in. One New York Times editorial on MSL summarized this perspective by saying that, “… an appreciation of music can’t be imposed; it needs to be elicited.”
The ideas of fostering low-anxiety environments, using a student-centered repertoire, leveraging intrinsic motivation, employing comprehensible input, the early introduction of improvisation and composition as well as the use of an “acquired system” of learning are some of the special features of the MSL approach.
Since 1996 over 1,300 certified MSL teachers have used the methodology to teach music to over 300,000 children grades K-12.