But, suddenly everything became clear: they are currently living in a world of absolutes. In their math classes they memorize formulas and solve problems which only have one possible answer. In their history classes they learn that Alexander the Great fought to acquire one of the largest empires in history and that Christopher Columbus discovered the New World in 1492 (even though there were a few civilizations that beat him to it). In foreign language classes they learn how to say "The cat is under the table," while in their English classes they learn that both "cat" and "table" are nouns.
In their world of absolutes, something as subjective as music feels like an alien landscape. They know the facts (notes, rhythms, printed dynamics), but they don't know why the cat is under the table. They aren't aware of the variety of subtle tone shadings and the different interpretations of each articulation marking.
The techniques of playing their instrument (dates, equations, verbs) are extremely important keys to unlocking the subtlety of music, but isn't musicality also an important factor in developing young musical chops? The best way I have found to explain this is to show them my process: how I discover harmonic changes for a single-tone instrument, where I feel the emotional direction is going, why I started playing slightly louder or softer when there were no dynamic changes printed, how Columbus stumbled upon the New World and what the effects were.
I believe there is a reason oral traditions have lasted for thousands of years: they pass along information while allowing the new orator to adapt the knowledge to his/her own interpretation or style.
Also, my cat is generally under the table to hide from the dog.