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About RMM

There are many ways to learn to play music. For most people, the end result of music lessons is the ability to play for fun and for personal satisfaction instead of performance. For people in this category, RMM is an ideal way to learn how to play music.

Recreational Music Making: What is RMM?

By Brenda Dillon

The acronym “RMM” was first used during a presentation to the worldwide music products industry at the NAMM Global Summit in Spain in 2002. Recreational Music Making was defined as: “A new strategy for enabling people who never before considered themselves musical to discover the joy and wellness benefits of playing a musical instrument.”

Many teachers realized that while they had not been describing their approach as Recreational Music Making, their teaching philosophies and lesson programs qualified as RMM under these criteria:

  • They provide a non-stressful learning environment.
  • They focus on student goals rather than teacher goals.
  • They are open to “volunteer-only” solo playing.
  • They focus on mastering concepts rather than mastering repertoire.
  • They are patient with technical progress.
  • They are flexible on curriculum and the pace of the class and they give students opportunities to choose repertoire.
  • They find creative strategies to help students get past learning hurdles.
  • They stress that age is never a factor in learning how to play the piano.
  • They stress that learning to play the piano is a journey, not a race.
  • They value the whole person rather than just their musical development.

RMM students do learn how to read music and to play music at their skill level. They learn how to play lead sheets and how to recognize and play various accompanying styles. Some teachers teach more advanced classes in harmonization, sight-reading, improvising, playing by ear, and other musicianship skills.

Most RMM teachers structure their curriculum to meet the needs of the students and the classes do not have to be advertised as RMM. There are also programs that include RMM classes for children and teenagers, not just adults.

Educational Goals

RMM does not compete with traditional music instruction. The goals of the two are very different. RMM’s goal is to help people become whole by encouraging musical expression. Many people who have never thought they were “musical” have come to love expressing themselves through music.

RMM classes offer people the chance to explore music and music making through a variety of tools. These tools often include keyboards, rhythm instruments, and can even include voice. Some RMM programs are simple drum circles where people come together for the sole purpose of making music.

Medical Benefits

There are many benefits to RMM. One is learning musical expression. Through musical expression, many people report a wide range of benefits, including an improved quality of life, improved health and happiness, and a general sense of accomplishment.

The health benefits of RMM have been reported to include lower stress levels, more relaxation, and intellectual stimulation. Recreational Music Making is especially beneficial to senior citizens.

A 2003 study by Barry Bittman, MD published in Focus on Caregiving showed that RMM can decrease visits to the doctor due to stress related complaints. In 1998, Frederick Tims, Chair of Music Therapy at Michigan State University, performed a study that showed increased levels of human growth hormone in the elderly after participation in RMM programs.

Business Benefits

Masatada Wachi, in a 2007 study published in the Medical Science Monitor, showed that workers participating in RMM programs were shown to have less burnout. Organizations that have implemented RMM programs for employees have shown lower employee turnover rates as a result of the programs. It has also been shown to be an excellent team-building exercise.

RMM offers many benefits, including improved health and lower stress levels. Companies implementing RMM programs can expect lower burnout rates and higher rates of employee retention.