Our education system is based on testing and exams with various forms of rewards given through certification etc. The punishment aspect of it is deeply psychological with people feeling that if they do not achieve they have by extension failed.
I have always found that the most effective use of gradings in teaching the guitar is to create a goal and the journey towards that goal; that is the objective not the arrival, a bit like life. Do we need all the rewards and punishments for developing musical skills or just our motivation to play?
When I started playing there was a lot of social unrest and maybe we are entering that situation again as people begin to notice how much they have been misled by the media and politicians. The idea of getting out and venting your emotional energy was a great motivator and we certainly need motivation but examinations are not generally anything other than a measurement guide for someone else. They are better being a guide for you as a motivator because walking out on a stage waving your grade eight certificate will not prove anything but playing will.
If you look at musical education as being a tool which we can use to realise our artistic goals then we can use the cheapest form of education which is now mostly online or we could also use friends and other artistic colleagues to develop our skills cheaply by watching them play and asking questions. The role of the teacher is to give a good route on the map towards technical and artist realisation, in other words getting people to think for themselves and I do not see much scope for outside reward or punishment but more self-determination and discipline.
The truest measure of your ability is made by you. Most artists find it really difficult to look or listen to their own work after they have completed it and within that we can see that we are greatest critic.
Maybe the time is right for some other counterculture thing to develop where art is being used to critique the establishment and society as has happened numerous times before and potentially can happen again as we are sitting on so many ticking bombs.
So for you as an artist anything less than world domination is not be enough.
www.bluescampuk.co.uk three days of a music summer school to get you rocking