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  • Music education and how it can be revamped and improved for the 21st century

    I have an article I recently wrote on the subject - you can check it out right here.

    I wanted to see what everyone thinks about the current state of music education in public schools, and get your thoughts on whether it needs improvement or not, and if it does, how you would propose making it better...

    Of course, as always, I welcome any comments or questions about the article.
    **********

    "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

    - George Carlin

    "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

    - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

    "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

    - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

  • #2
    Take the athletics dept. budget and cut it by 50%, split the balance up between arts and sciences. Nice starting point.
    http://thebasement.createaforum.com/

    Comment


    • Phil O'Keefe
      Phil O'Keefe commented
      Editing a comment
      That's remarkably similar to one of the comments in the article.

      Not that athletics are bad - in fact, we probably need to get kids moving more, not less...

  • #3
    A lot depends on where you live. A year ago this time we were living in Maryland, in a suburb of DC. Lots of money all over the place (not to mention high cost of living and traffic nightmares). My granddaughter played flute in the school band (public school in the county). She had one music class every other day.

    In the beginning of this year we moved to Alabama. She still plays flute in the band, except now she has band class every day. She also has additional rehearsals after school on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, sometimes Saturday (minimum 2 hours). There is no practice on Friday, as they travel with the football team and perform at halftime and do a pregame show for home games. This summer before school started, they had band camps, ranging anywhere from a couple of hours a day for a few days, up to an entire week of 8-hour sessions (for about 2 weeks).

    As far as Academics they are rated 10th best district in the state (top 7% in the nation), 4th best district with the best teachers in the state (top 5% in America) and 5th best place to teach in the state (top 4% in America). This is not some local survey, but ranked by US News and World Report. This is a small town (about 22,000) with a single high school.

    One thing that is very different here versus where we used to live in Maryland is the identity of the school with the town. They are very intermingled. The school is very much the image of the town and an ambassador for the town. In fact, for a recent football game that was 2-hours away, the band and football buses received a police escort to and from the game. The school system is a huge part of the draw of business and others into the area. The town has recognized the importance of education, and music education is very much a part of that. This is also not a 'rich school', as 49% of the enrollment is classified as 'economically disadvantaged' - meaning that almost half of the students get free (42%) or reduced price (7%) lunches.

    I do realize this is not what one would expect of a 'fringe rural' school system, especially in the state of Alabama. However, when the resources and effort are focused on education (and a well rounded education), the school system can provide the student not only a good academic education, but one that is filled with music and arts, and not just STEM. It also provides the student with an enjoyable education experience as well.

    As for our family, I couldn't be happier with the education both of our grandchildren are receiving here. In fact, I'm trying to get my other daughter (that is a school teacher) to come down here and teach!
    The Mandolin Picker

    "Bless your hearts... and all your vital organs" - John Duffy

    "Got time to breath, got time for music!"- Briscoe Darling, Jr.

    Comment


    • philboking
      philboking commented
      Editing a comment
      Let me take a wild guess: Huntsville?

    • Mandolin Picker
      Mandolin Picker commented
      Editing a comment
      Oxford

  • #4
    In my view training kids in music should include the ears. How to hear "Louis Louis" which is (aside from the minor V chord) "Hand On Sloopy" which is "Wild Thing". Listening to the bass. Listening to some of the middle guitar parts in "Dear Prudence". In my experience so much was simply parroting the concepts of (piano) a singing tone and legato phrasing. No accent ! Training the ears opens the doors to musical perception. Hearing the passing diminished 7th chords in a Louis Jordan tune. The tools and techniques should be exposed to the kids learning music. I know someone in Jacksonville (FL) who had 12 years of piano lessons. Played Chopin Etudes. Never a peep from teacher about playing using her ears.

    I'm giving music lessons to my grandniece. She's just shy of 5. Her mom brings her and participates. We do attempts at her playing "Hot Cross Buns" with one finger (reinforced by the thumb). She's not steady on her tempo yet but I figure her co-ordination will develop one of these days before our eyes. After a suitable time of this, we do some music playing. I have a collection of hand drums and some leather stick thingies to beat some of them with.

    So she gets to pick a drum each week. Her mom plays tambourine. I made her a CD with "Dear Prudence" and a couple of other sunny Beatles songs. Plus "Oh What A Beautiful Morning" and "Surrey With The Fringe". It's a small collection of tunes we'll play together. There'll be others too. But in say Prudence, I can get her familiar with how it works. Play along with Paul's bass line. Play along with those high lines George plays. Maybe later, (6-9 months?) I can try to get her to play a bluesy left hand part while I riff in the right hand. I've starting getting her to sing along on the choruses. I don't know if she's singing in tune, but I'm sure she will be eventually.

    Work their ears. I think it isn't emphasized enough in academia.
    Last edited by davd_indigo; 09-22-2017, 06:55 PM.
    https://soundcloud.com/david-goethe/tracks

    Dave's ,YouTube channel

    Comment


    • #5
      Originally posted by davd_indigo View Post
      In my view training kids in music should include the ears. How to hear "Louis Louis" which is (aside from the minor V chord) "Hand On Sloopy" which is "Wild Thing". Listening to the bass. Listening to some of the middle guitar parts in "Dear Prudence". In my experience so much was simply parroting the concepts of (piano) a singing tone and legato phrasing. No accent ! Training the ears opens the doors to musical perception. Hearing the passing diminished 7th chords in a Louis Jordan tune. The tools and techniques should be exposed to the kids learning music. I know someone in Jacksonville (FL) who had 12 years of piano lessons. Played Chopin Etudes. Never a peep from teacher about playing using her ears.

      I'm giving music lessons to my grandniece. She's just shy of 5. Her mom brings her and participates. We do attempts at her playing "Hot Cross Buns" with one finger (reinforced by the thumb). She's not steady on her tempo yet but I figure her co-ordination will develop one of these days before our eyes. After a suitable time of this, we do some music playing. I have a collection of hand drums and some leather stick thingies to beat some of them with.

      So she gets to pick a drum each week. Her mom plays tambourine. I made her a CD with "Dear Prudence" and a couple of other sunny Beatles songs. Plus "Oh What A Beautiful Morning" and "Surrey With The Fringe". It's a small collection of tunes we'll play together. There'll be others too. But in say Prudence, I can get her familiar with how it works. Play along with Paul's bass line. Play along with those high lines George plays. Maybe later, (6-9 months?) I can try to get her to play a bluesy left hand part while I riff in the right hand. I've starting getting her to sing along on the choruses. I don't know if she's singing in tune, but I'm sure she will be eventually.

      Work their ears. I think it isn't emphasized enough in academia.
      Yeah, I agree. I think a Music Appreciation/Form and Analysis tack would be a good thing. So many have the tools to make recorded music now in some form, but don't have much of a clue about putting it together. (That's how it seems to me anyway.) They could no doubt use some instruction on the proper use of said tools also. Music First though. Something to show them how and why their favorite music works...or perhaps doesn't. My dad taught a music appreciation college class. For every act of Wagner opera, or Mozart overture, the class was allowed to submit examples of their own. I'll never forget the time he came home talking about 2 Live Crew.



      To my surprise I really liked F&A and I wish I'd gotten to it a bit sooner than college.

      Comment


      • #6
        Our experience seeing the kids through this and that music program, both in school and private lessons, made it clear that things have generally improved since the ancient days when I played in the school band and took some private piano lessons. The music departments in the schools have more resources. Parents are more involved. The private teachers now include a lot of adjunct profs, trying to supplement the pisspoor wages they make from their insecure, untenured positions with the local colleges and universities. (That's another topic I can rant about, but will stifle meself.)

        It still remains a clear fact, however, that music teachers in general are a rather odd bunch, wouldn't you agree? So the luck of the draw is still probably the definitive factor in any kid's music education - whether the kid gets one of the terrible teachers, one of the angels, or one of the middling mass of bored and boring, partially effective instructors.

        What about technology? For all these devices with children attached, right? Sure - they are potential tools. But music is music is music, and so very little equipment is actually needed when it all comes down to basics. A listening and observing teacher giving a kid individual attention is still the best way to impart the subtleties of musical performance and understanding.

        Should the schools and teachers embrace popular music? Should the music curriculum be democratized and treat all music genres equally, etc etc? Is this now a political/educational issue? I don't have much to say about this very tiresome subject except that I personally think the old western musical tradition is a cultural treasure that I hope survives the current political sensitivities. It might not - nothing lasts forever, ok, I get that.

        And hell, yes, the non-western traditions are amazing and should be somehow worked into the curriculum, I certainly get that, too. But a student learns best following the well-worn trail of a specific tradition at least for the basic training. Pick a tradition and stick with it, whether jazz or common practice Western, or bluegrass, or blues, or gamelan, or Indian classical, whatever. Get rooted in one identity, then branch out. Now there's no way public schools can offer deep training in all these various traditions - they should probably just stick to the same old same old, with some review of the various traditions out there.

        I also know that there's a special magic to music for kids that lies outside the parental world, free from adult commentary and control. It might be crappy music, sure. Or it might be great, too. But for me at least, bringing the kid's music into the adult world to be managed by adults would just be the kiss of death for whatever music gets that treatment. I don't subscribe to the "kids must rebel" mythology (although a little troublemaking is good for the soul) but kids need a place where they can take small vacations, away from Big Nurse and Big Brother and Vice-Principals and all their ilk.

        Software for teaching music has, at least to my knowledge, not fulfilled it's potential. There are lots of exercises, lots of musical concepts, that software can guide students through, obviously. It seems the most natural of subjects to supplement certain repetitive learning tasks, listening exercises, basics, and so on. Maybe there's good software out there I don't know about - if you know of some, drop some names, please.

        What about DAWs and their role in music education? Sure, why not? But again, DAWs are of little or no interest to the average musician, right? What does the 2nd chair oboe player need a DAW for? For composing musicians, for recordists, sure. But in spite of the growth of DAWs, they are a "later on" sort of interest for musical types with specific interests. Sure, have a class or two on them if there's someone who can teach them and there's a budget. But DAWs don't have much to offer in terms of the basics of becoming a musician.

        Looking forward to your article, Phil.

        nat
        Last edited by nat whilk II; 09-23-2017, 12:03 PM.

        Comment


        • #7
          Originally posted by nat whilk II View Post


          Should the schools and teachers embrace popular music? Should the music curriculum be democratized and treat all music genres equally, etc etc? Is this now a political/educational issue? I don't have much to say about this very tiresome subject except that I personally think the old western musical tradition is a cultural treasure that I hope survives the current political sensitivities. It might not - nothing lasts forever, ok, I get that.

          And hell, yes, the non-western traditions are amazing and should be somehow worked into the curriculum, I certainly get that, too. But a student learns best following the well-worn trail of a specific tradition at least for the basic training. Pick a tradition and stick with it, whether jazz or common practice Western, or bluegrass, or blues, or gamelan, or Indian classical, whatever. Get rooted in one identity, then branch out. Now there's no way public schools can offer deep training in all these various traditions - they should probably just stick to the same old same old, with some review of the various traditions out there.

          I also know that there's a special magic to music for kids that lies outside the parental world, free from adult commentary and control. It might be crappy music, sure. Or it might be great, too. But for me at least, bringing the kid's music into the adult world to be managed by adults would just be the kiss of death for whatever music gets that treatment. I don't subscribe to the "kids must rebel" mythology (although a little troublemaking is good for the soul) but kids need a place where they can take small vacations, away from Big Nurse and Big Brother and Vice-Principals and all their ilk.



          nat
          If I may? I'm not sure that same old, same old was ever enough, anywhere. If the mission was just well rounded individuals, maybe, barely. Attempts were being made to at least be somewhat 'with the times' back in the 70's when I mostly suffered through junior high music programs.
          Not that we were playing Led Zep, but more along the lines of "The Theme From M.A.S.H.", "More"...etc. But if music is music, it still had to be well played, by some of us anyway. I'd have much rather been playing Bach though.

          And if music is music is music then it all can be examined, and some perspective may be gained. So I'm sticking with my plug for some music history/ appreciation angle to maybe bring it all together some. So that it's not just the music they listen to and like, and then that stuff they play at school from hundreds of years ago that may on some level be intriguing for some, but hardly seems relevant. Of course of a very few will totally get it. But there always seemed to be the great divide, which didn't seem to be as much about rebellion as about distance and unfamiliarity.

          I certainly don't believe all music genres are equal though, and I'm pretty sure, fwiw, that my dad's seemingly democratic approach was a probably doomed attempt to highlight the difference in the hopes of winning converts.

          I agree that a methodical approach is best, but I do think music ed. needs to somehow be more than same as it ever was. We're home schooling our son and I've got that covered I suppose.









          Last edited by RockViolin; 09-23-2017, 06:03 PM.

          Comment


          • #8
            Originally posted by RockViolin View Post

            If I may? I'm not sure that same old, same old was ever enough, anywhere. If the mission was just well rounded individuals, maybe, barely. Attempts were being made to at least be somewhat 'with the times' back in the 70's when I mostly suffered through junior high music programs.
            Not that we were playing Led Zep, but more along the lines of "The Theme From M.A.S.H.", "More"...etc. But if music is music, it still had to be well played, by some of us anyway. I'd have much rather been playing Bach though.

            And if music is music is music then it all can be examined, and some perspective may be gained. So I'm sticking with my plug for some music history/ appreciation angle to maybe bring it all together some.
            Ok, I grant your point - same old same old is not good enough and never was.

            And exposure to various traditions I can go with, too.

            But I just don't know what a curriculum would look like, and how it could be effective, if it doesn't stick to some basic tradition as the main organizing principle of course structuring. With forays, definitely, into other traditions, for breadth, but not at the sacrifice of depth in the all-too-familiar diatonic, western, common practice stuff.

            Maybe there's some deeper principles of music that underlie all the traditions that could be defined, and a whole new "holistic" approach developed. That sort of thing is way beyond me, 'tho. Especially in this age of web-enabled endless alternatives, one molecule deep and a universe wide.

            I certainly don't think technology will show up as some savior of the situation. Music still needs to be programmed into living human beings. Music isn't anything if it's not internalized deeply into actual human brains, muscles, and nervous systems. God help us if music becomes simply a commodity that any AI thingy can produce to meet consumer demand. Any musician worth his/her salt knows that music is something you do, something you have in you, not something you buy or click "like" to.

            nat
            Last edited by nat whilk II; 09-23-2017, 07:20 PM.

            Comment


            • #9
              Originally posted by nat whilk II View Post

              Ok, I grant your point - same old same old is not good enough and never was.

              And exposure to various traditions I can go with, too.

              But I just don't know what a curriculum would look like, and how it could be effective, if it doesn't stick to some basic tradition as the main organizing principle of course structuring. With forays, definitely, into other traditions, for breadth, but not at the sacrifice of depth in the all-too-familiar diatonic, western, common practice stuff.

              Maybe there's some deeper principles of music that underlie all the traditions that could be defined, and a whole new "holistic" approach developed. That sort of thing is way beyond me, 'tho. Especially in this age of web-enabled endless alternatives, one molecule deep and a universe wide.

              I certainly don't think technology will show up as some savior of the situation. Music still needs to be programmed into living human beings. Music isn't anything if it's not internalized deeply into actual human brains, muscles, and nervous systems. God help us if music becomes simply a commodity that any AI thingy can produce to meet consumer demand. Any musician worth his/her salt knows that music is something you do, something you have in you, not something you buy or click "like" to.

              nat
              Thanks. I think we agree on quite a bit.

              I'm afraid at this point though that the question may not be so much of what does 2nd oboe need with the music creation tools in her iPad as it is what does the world need with 2nd oboe? I think that the public schools would serve a larger, if not better purpose if they could see to it that the masses are aware that Beethoven's 5th Symphony is considerably more than the music from Judge Judy, that Bach's name carries the same import as Da Vinci, and that Mozart wasn't just played some by Einstein, he was as singular and rare as Einstein.

              2nd oboe is watching 1rst oboe, who started way before the 3rd grade with a teacher at the university, head off to Julliard next year. She was tired of his rolling his eyes at her anyway. Maybe she's hoping this is her big chance to be 1rst oboe. Maybe she's tired of all the bored violinists that got their start when they were 5 laughing at her when she squawks and is ready to quit.

              Remember when Bernstien was on the tv with the NY Phil. every Saturday night? That was a long time ago. My old gig just shaved 6 -7 weeks off of their season, and simultaneously lost several principal players that will be hard to replace. This on the heels of last season, which among the usual suspects also featured the orchestra playing the music of Led Zeppelin, and a big screen event that featured the music from Harry Potter. Slated for next spring- Bowie/Prince. I think Shostakovich got bumped.

              Wasn't it Lee Flier that approached her Junior high band director about learning to write music and got the cold shoulder? I'd be willing to bet that there are a lot more Lee Flier types out there now than before, and maybe more could be done to help them and bring them along. Because the private teachers still have the playing an instrument thing covered best, and the youth symphony, at least in more populated areas, still has playing in a large group covered best. And the players that really want to pursue a life as a musician would be better served if they can make the grade at Curtis, or NCSA, or Peabody.

              I think there may be some stellar public school programs out there that can actually bring about fine young players who have not only learned a thing or 2 but have some options as a result. It's certainly not the norm though.





              Comment


              • #10
                Nat Wiki said: But a student learns best following the well-worn trail of a specific tradition at least for the basic training. Pick a tradition and stick with it, whether jazz or common practice Western, or bluegrass, or blues, or gamelan, or Indian classical, whatever.

                Rock Vioin said: I certainly don't believe all music genres are equal though, and I'm pretty sure, fwiw, that my dad's seemingly democratic approach was a probably doomed attempt to highlight the difference in the hopes of winning converts.

                And I say:
                I don't see genres as completely separate and distinct. More specifically genres that sprung up using Western harmony. Jazz and blues harmonies derived from that of classical European composers. Certain things were borrowed or stolen from these composers and became changed in the process applying different rhythms (African derived) and playing percussion instruments along with the music. Charlie Parker may have modified some things in the creation of bebop, but he didn't invent the harmonic language. When you hear a turnaround played in (let's say) a T-Bone Walker tune, he didn't invent that harmonic movement , he maybe adapted to his blues style.


                OTOH, some songs within any genre are more inventive and better crafted. That is to say, better crafted than other songs within the same genre. If one learns to listen to harmonic movement rather than simply memorize the chords in a song, the lines between musical genres (I'm talking Western harmonic based styles here) become blurred. I will grant you that the devices in Western Classical music are more complex and sophisticated. But the classical composers can be like a well to draw from. I completely disagree with the "classical music GOOD - rock music BAD". Which rock music ? Which classical music ?

                All of this is to say that if I'm able to teach this one child long enough, I'll be looking to find harmonic movement (i.e. chord changes) that is used in classical, jazz and blues music. They are in the same family tree.

                An attempt at an illustration:
                The harmonic progression at the beginning of this song is the same as many many blues turnarounds. It's also in a ton of classical music.
                In the key of C the harmony is:
                Fmaj (f in the bass) F# dim (f# in bass) Cmaj (g in bass)
                Last edited by davd_indigo; 09-24-2017, 08:00 AM.
                https://soundcloud.com/david-goethe/tracks

                Dave's ,YouTube channel

                Comment


                • #11
                  Originally posted by davd_indigo View Post
                  Nat Wiki said: But a student learns best following the well-worn trail of a specific tradition at least for the basic training. Pick a tradition and stick with it, whether jazz or common practice Western, or bluegrass, or blues, or gamelan, or Indian classical, whatever.

                  Rock Vioin said: I certainly don't believe all music genres are equal though, and I'm pretty sure, fwiw, that my dad's seemingly democratic approach was a probably doomed attempt to highlight the difference in the hopes of winning converts.

                  And I say:
                  I don't see genres as completely separate and distinct. More specifically genres that sprung up using Western harmony. Jazz and blues harmonies derived from that of classical European composers. Certain things were borrowed or stolen from these composers and became changed in the process applying different rhythms (African derived) and playing percussion instruments along with the music. Charlie Parker may have modified some things in the creation of bebop, but he didn't invent the harmonic language. When you hear a turnaround played in (let's say) a T-Bone Walker tune, he didn't invent that harmonic movement , he maybe adapted to his blues style.


                  OTOH, some songs within any genre are more inventive and better crafted. That is to say, better crafted than other songs within the same genre. If one learns to listen to harmonic movement rather than simply memorize the chords in a song, the lines between musical genres (I'm talking Western harmonic based styles here) become blurred. I will grant you that the devices in Western Classical music are more complex and sophisticated. But the classical composers can be like a well to draw from. I completely disagree with the "classical music GOOD - rock music BAD". Which rock music ? Which classical music ?

                  All of this is to say that if I'm able to teach this one child long enough, I'll be looking to find harmonic movement (i.e. chord changes) that is used in classical, jazz and blues music. They are in the same family tree.

                  An attempt at an illustration:
                  The harmonic progression at the beginning of this song is the same as many many blues turnarounds. It's also in a ton of classical music.
                  In the key of C the harmony is:
                  Fmaj (f in the bass) F# dim (f# in bass) Cmaj (g in bass)
                  I didn't really mean to set any one genre against another. Not Jazz or Rock anyway. And I am RockViolin after all, though thoroughly classically trained and employed. I was able to cross over and thoroughly enjoyed doing so. But that's another story.

                  Just saying, there are some genre that while they may have artistic validity for their own rather insulated reasons, are actually pretty thin when it comes to musical content and it's ability to express/convey a range of emotions, or be expressive in any particular meaningful way beyond boom boom boom boom. That is just my dirty, rotten, stinking opinion of course.
                  Last edited by RockViolin; 09-24-2017, 11:18 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Originally posted by RockViolin View Post

                    I think that the public schools would serve a larger, if not better purpose if they could see to it that the masses are aware that Beethoven's 5th Symphony is considerably more than the music from Judge Judy, that Bach's name carries the same import as Da Vinci, and that Mozart wasn't just played some by Einstein, he was as singular and rare as Einstein.
                    The even bigger question is whether music will even be continued to be taught in the public school system. Today's schools have been hammered that STeM (Science, Technology and Math) is the overriding priority. It will soon be time for the annual "How bad students perform on testing in the United States compared to the rest of the world" article and the nightly news cast to hit the airways. There will be talk of standardized testing scores, and how students are failing. And calls for the community to turn this around, but just spending more money on STeM programs. Then we could turn the tide.

                    Today teachers spend more time teaching students how to do well on standardized tests than they do actually educating their students (my oldest daughter is a middle school teacher). Further, they are placed under the gun for if test scores don't improve they are subject to job loss or worse. We already see school systems where one music teacher floats among 5-10 schools, bringing a music class to an individual school maybe once or twice a week (if they are lucky). School systems have cut music and art programs to pay for the STeM programs.

                    There is no chorus of parents hollering that their child needs a music class, but instead see technology as the road to success for their children and demand the schools provide it. There are no standardized tests on music, and no comparison on the cable news shows about how US school students are behind their counterparts in Asia and elsewhere when it comes to music.

                    As we continue to remove music (and the arts) from the schools, we create larger and larger population who know little about music, and they will not see it as a priority in their life, or the lives of their children. It is already at the point where everyday folks no longer sit and listen to music anymore. For most music is a noise that is filling space in the background. A music show is simply a way to be entertained for a couple hours, and is no different than the movies or Netflix.

                    We have done this to ourselves, unfortunately. It will take generations to turn it around - if we ever decide again that music is important.
                    The Mandolin Picker

                    "Bless your hearts... and all your vital organs" - John Duffy

                    "Got time to breath, got time for music!"- Briscoe Darling, Jr.

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      Originally posted by davd_indigo View Post
                      Nat Wiki said: But a student learns best following the well-worn trail of a specific tradition at least for the basic training. Pick a tradition and stick with it, whether jazz or common practice Western, or bluegrass, or blues, or gamelan, or Indian classical, whatever.


                      And I say:
                      I don't see genres as completely separate and distinct. More specifically genres that sprung up using Western harmony. Jazz and blues harmonies derived from that of classical European composers. Certain things were borrowed or stolen from these composers and became changed in the process applying different rhythms (African derived) and playing percussion instruments along with the music. Charlie Parker may have modified some things in the creation of bebop, but he didn't invent the harmonic language. When you hear a turnaround played in (let's say) a T-Bone Walker tune, he didn't invent that harmonic movement , he maybe adapted to his blues style.
                      Sure, absolutely. I guess I'm not really thinking in terms of genres as much as pedagogical traditions. The nuts and bolts of instruction simply as a practical matter. If you teach a class of kids or a stream of single students, how do you arrange the steps? What instructional books, what videos, how do you plot the learning progression? I vote for the old common practice western tradition of instruction to root the process, then branch out in any logical progression from there. Sure - Ravel to jazz is an obvious branching of great interest. Chorales to hymns to barbershop to do-wop to Beach Boys, etc etc all fine and good.

                      If you've attended many high school choir concerts (a veteran of a zillion, here) you'll notice a certain go-to mix of material. A core of mostly western, Baroque, ecclesiastical material, with a smattering of alternate flavors - jazz, Black Gospel, African, American traditional, show tunes, maybe even a modernish modal sort of thing thrown in. I just bet this menu is served up nationwide - I'd like to hear people tell about the repertoire in various geographies. I don't see a problem here...just as long as this particular go-to mix doesn't become some holy thing forever and ever.

                      The money thing is perennial. The wheel will turn eventually. Folks will get over STEM-obsession and then get all exercised about our cultural poverty at some point. Meanwhile, zillions of kids will get put through their paces in school and private programs as ever. I'll let other people fuss over the funding - I get bored with all that instantly. Ok, I'll fork over $100 to help some school program or other, fine.

                      nat

                      Comment


                      • #14

                        MandolinPicker said:
                        The even bigger question is whether music will even be continued to be taught in the public school system. Today's schools have been hammered that STeM (Science, Technology and Math) is the overriding priority. It will soon be time for the annual "How bad students perform on testing in the United States compared to the rest of the world" article and the nightly news cast to hit the airways. There will be talk of standardized testing scores, and how students are failing. And calls for the community to turn this around, but just spending more money on STeM programs. Then we could turn the tide.

                        _____________________________
                        I don't know about money in schools. But I'm sure many of you've seen that 60Minutes piece on the guy who went to a poor, small town in Missippi and began coaching kids in chess. They loved it. Their grades went up. They went to a tournament and beat some kids who were older and more well off. There are studies about kids who take music lessons or classes do better in schools. And these neurological studies of the brain. Animating software lights up the sections of the brain that are engaged when you listen to or make music. Apparently more areas are used for music than other activities.

                        I think that in a time when the marketplace isn't kind to musicians, this has promise. Also there are studies on people with dementia. Music is found to be beneficial. This is good news for musicians. Not a return to the golden days maybe, but it's positive news. Maybe a new niche. There are gigs playing at assisted living facilities (ALF's).
                        Last edited by davd_indigo; 09-24-2017, 05:37 PM.
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                        • #15
                          Many astute posts here on the subject. My boy started playing cello in sixth grade and played in Orchestra all the way to graduation. Took it very seriously, practiced hard, went to UIL tournaments every year, which always required fundraisers to come up with the traveling money. Athletics didn't seem to have any funding problems at all. I know some folks would have taken the snarky shot I took earlier in the thread as being Anti-Athletics. Not so. Athletics are great, I just want funding considerations that recognize the value of The Arts on the same level as Athletics.

                          After graduating High School...The Lad hasn't touched his cello since. 4 years now. That's ok. Kids play ball all through school then just watch it on TV after that.Wish he'd kept at it, but he never complained about playing even once. 6 years and he was done is all. It taught him a lot about organization and teamwork, and he had cool instructors. Beatles tunes were always a part of the repertoire.
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