Popular Music

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Middle Eight

Gerard Kempers (1948–2005): a personal statement

Philip  Tagg a1
a1 E-mail: Philip.tagg@sympatico.ca

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I first met Gerard in 1975 in Örebro (Sweden) at the Nordic Piano Teachers' annual conference and workshops. Both of us were like fish out of water in discussions about the best fingering techniques to use in Beethoven sonatas. I had been asked to talk about popular music education and Gerard was on the lookout for fresh ideas for his art college in Lelystad. ‘I didn’t have a clue what you were actually saying' (in Swedish), he told me, ‘but it seemed to make sense’. What Gerard said he was trying to achieve in his college made perfect sense to me. He was determined to democratise music (and media) education: he wanted to right the wrong that consisted of excluding the music of the popular majority from officially sanctioned institutions of education and research. I had found a good friend and powerful ally. We kept contact from that time until very recently.