What is the Willems® Pedagogy?

What is the Willems® Pedagogy?

To describe in a few words what the Willems® Pedagogy is is a challenge!
For although the main elements of Edgar Willems‘ thinking are very simple, their development allows us to grasp the whole range of questions relating to musical education, from the initiation of the first contacts with music to its instrumental practice at the professional level.

From a methodological and pedagogical point of view, this is probably the most characteristic element of this proposal, which has been tried and practised since 1950: all the musical principles introduced in the first courses must remain relevant in professional practice, and a fortiori in amateur vocal and instrumental practice.

This implies an in-depth reflection on all the elements that make up music:
rhythm, melody, harmony.
Edgar Willems highlighted the possible correlation between this nature of music and human nature, which is itself composed of three elements: a physical body, animated by a physiological life, a sensitive heart, for the emotional life, and a thinking head, for the mental life.

Music education touches these three dimensions of the human being:

  • the body through rhythm
  • the heart trough melody
  • the head through harmony

This musical-human synthesis shows that music is not external to man, but the artistic expression of his profound nature.
From then on, there is no question of inculcating musical notions in pupils who are more or less receptive and more or less “gifted”. Because music is an emanation of the human being, it is above all a question of revealing to these apprentice-musicians what they already carry within themselves, by stimulating their body, their heart and their head through music, by seeking a balance in the realisation of these three dimensions: a thinking head in an active body available to the sensitive expression of the best of oneself, which could be a definition of a complete art.

The other great characteristic of Edgar Willems’ pedagogical proposal is his methodology: considering that music is a language, its learning must follow the same stages as the learning of a mother tongue, namely, impregnation, experimentation, awareness, knowledge, creation.

Observing how a child learns to speak clearly shows that theory comes largely after experimentation and practice, in other words: improvisation!
We can even see that it is improvisation, experimentation, errors and adaptations that are at the heart of learning mother tongue.
The same is true for learning musical language, with the important difference that the essence of music is already within us, unlike mother tongue, which depends on the environment in which the child will be immersed.

The Willems® pedagogy provides precious keys to lead, accompany and stimulate apprentice musicians towards a beneficial balance of all their human faculties, physical/emotional/mental, through progressive stages divided into 4 levels, from initiation to music theory and the instrument.

To find out more about the content of the courses, this specific progression and the training courses offered by the International Willems® Federation, visit our site: enjoy your journey between our lines!