Lack of Music Education Shows Deterioration of American Society

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Quote Robindell:

You apparently didn't read what I wrote. I said that universities -- which educate all elementary and secondary school teachers -- have music departments, which in conjunction with schools of education train music teachers. Although art and music may be subjective, there are objective, even technical elements that go into making art or music. I pointed out above that educators have said that there is some evidence that playing music or at least learning something about it can boast academic performance.

Perhaps. But can it boost "academic performance" better than, say, studying a topic more instead of the same time spent in music education? What about listening to such music while doing homework instead of studying it? I'm not getting much in the way of real research here... but I'm beginning to sense a certain amount of tunnel vision... or you're citing studies funded by out of work music teachers.

I loved classical music when I was young. I used to go to sleep listening to the local station. But being forced to watch Leonard Bernstein specials when I was in 4th grade really didn't help my grades because they weren't the pieces I liked... and when I was getting into top 40 radio. And I think this issue will happen whenever there's a conflict between what one likes and what we're told we must appreciate. There's 7-8 billion people on the planet. We don't all have to appreciate what you do.

And in a nutshell... this whole thread sums up the farce of a classical liberal education. Since I was in the college track in HS we had to learn certain subjects... and one was a foreign language. I made the mistake of taking Latin and I hated it. I spent a summer in summer school to change my D into a C. When I was an undergrad all I cared about was Sociology and Political Science... but there was ANOTHER f*ckin foreign language requirement.

I really tire of this academic police state mentality.

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ulTRAX
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

When students come from a lower-class background, the probability is increased that they are not going do as well academically as someone from a middle class background.

This site has deteriorated into a place for people who are bitter about their past to vent. That doesn't result in constructive discussion.

People in Chicago, a financially troubled city, have mentioned cuts to education is a bad thing. I don't have kids in CPS or live there anymore, but I have not only read and heard of reports on school closings but on cuts to certain classes. The thing is, in rich, suburban school districts, these same subjects are still going strong. How selfish for people to say that just because they are not interested in something that everyone else must be deprived of learning something about it. Someone else here already said that everyone should learn to play an instrument. I didn't say that.

When someone didn't do as well academically as he or she otherwise might have, or as well as the teacher expected, or when young people are given the opportunity to learn things which they might otherwise not ever know anything about, that is not a police state. The real explanation for such inflamatory (and bitter) language might be suggested by the title of a book by Professor Richard Hostadter, who was a Columbia Unviersity social historian, called Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. One of the hallmarks of a right-wing hate monger is putting words in the mouths of others. Another aspect is unexamined self-hatred projected onto others. Another is rejection of education, knowledge, and scholarship. Who needs a stinkin' degree in education, or even any college degree whatsoever, to teach or decide how education should be carried out? Just say anything you want and call it the truth.

The other day, I saw a report about an autistic young man who is a visual artists. This site has people who don't like any of the arts, and it can be assumed don't like certain groups, either. That is what happens when you have a society made up of ignoramuses. I overheard a woman who said that she doesn't think history should be taught in school, because she only cares about what is happening now. Actual educators would not agree with any of this. In America, the land of crime, inequality, and extremism, some people who are angry about life itself will find something to attack, with the use of self-proving, distorted, or exaggerated statements. Sounds a lot like Fox News.

The Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset talked about some of this in a sense in his book, The Revolt of the Masses. If people with no talent, or little knowledge of something, believe themselves to be superior to those with demonstrated talented or scholarship, knowledge, expertise, etc., then a society will be backward in what it offers and how it treats its citizens. I hope to never need surgery. I don't entirely agree with the high prices charged by doctors and the lousy insurance policies that don't cover a lot of the expense. Does that mean, however, that I don't respect the skill and expertise of surgeons?

Thom Harmann has some Web site followers who as far as I am concerned are not progressives. That's his issue, not mine. Intolerance and hate is not progressivism.

It's like T.V.'s Get Smart: Kaos (chaos) and Control.

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Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Hmmm, I don't know how much early intro of the arts in education can be quantified ultrax, but I did read one study done a few years ago that had shown statically the students who had been exposed to the arts in their early grade years did quite a bit better academically than their peers who had had none irrespective if any of the arts had been pursued by any individual. And if memory serves, the differences show as early as the middle grade years and carries through high school into college.

Just an INTRODUCTION early makes a difference.

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm
Quote Robindell:When someone didn't do as well academically as he or she otherwise might have, or as well as the teacher expected, or when young people are given the opportunity to learn things which they might otherwise not ever know anything about, that is not a police state. The real explanation for such inflamatory (and bitter) language might be suggested by the title of a book by Professor Richard Hostadter, who was a Columbia Unviersity social historian, called Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. One of the hallmarks of a right-wing hate monger is putting words in the mouths of others. Another aspect is unexamined self-hatred projected onto others. Another is rejection of education, knowledge, and scholarship. Who needs a stinkin' degree in education, or even any college degree whatsoever, to teach or decide how education should be carried out? Just say anything you want and call it the truth.
I have that book as well as Hostadter's The Paranoid Style Of American Politics... but haven't read either in perhaps 30-40 years. Yes, I was an average student in k-12 but certainly did well after that.

Since I'm the only one who used the term academic "police state" to describe a classical liberal education... you must be talking to me and I consider the comment unfair. BTW what I meant by that if in the liberal arts one MUST have X, Y and Z... while ignoring A, B and C.

You started a thread entirely fixated on the arts. It's right there in the title you chose for the thread: Lack of Music Education Shows Deterioration of American Society.

I'd certainly favor a well rounded education including introductions to the arts, but I think your premise is nonsense. There's certainly more to the making of a well rounded person than the arts. And there's a downside to forcing kids to be exposed to too much of a subject they could care less about: the danger they may never care to investigate it again, while ignoring other things that could better shape a young mind.

In the cosmic scheme of things I think some things are more important that the arts... such as teaching students to think... philosophy, logic, curiosity, self-awareness, the scientific method, citizenship, comparative cultures to develop a sense of one's place in the world, and evolution/cosmology to develop our sense of our sense of place the universe. I also favor what Postman and Weingartner described in their book Teaching As A Subversive Activity as the Inquiry Method... where students develop their own bullsh*t detectors and can learn to learn on their own. They can always return to the arts in more detail if it interests them. If THOSE are the goals, then US education is failing miserably... and fixating on the arts as some magical solution to what ails us is a fool's errand.

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ulTRAX
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I understand what you said in the earlier post, #46, and the later ones, #49 and #50, but I had mentioned that music is taught in universities and should also be taught in the earlier years of schooling as well. That's all I was pointing out. A few other people expressed dislike and even scorn or disdain for the music, and I was questioning not so much their musical prefences as their values in pratically attacking a form of fine art. If only they put so much emotion into attacking extremists. Musicians are human beings who have put a lot of practice into what they do. There is an overlap between music and the humanities up to a point, and they all are of importance. Literature figures into into opera, such as with "Othello" by Verdi and "Faust" by Gounod, and at least three composers, Tchaikvovsky, Berlioz, and Prokofiev wrote works based on "Romeo and Juilet. Richard Strauss wrote a tone poem called "Thus Spake Zarathustra" based on a book by Nietzsch, the opening of which was made famous in Stanley Kubrick's film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Mahler uses different texts in some of his symphonies and in his song cycles, such as "Knaben Wunderhorn" or his independent, non-numbered vocal symphony-like work, "The Song of the Earth." The song, "Erlkonig" by Schubert is based on a poem by Goethe. Leonard Bernstein, who was a Harvard graduate, gave a series of lectures of which recordings were made in which he explored different ideas and themes that apply to both music and the humanities.

I have have some time which I didn't before, so I can watch the YouTube of the guitarist that was referenced.

I am not religious but still enjoy liturgical music, of which there are any number of famous compositions for orchestra and chorus.

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Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

A Supreme Court justice could be considered to be an educated person. Recently, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg visited the studios of Chicago's classical music station and for two hours, co-hosted the Morning Program with a woman who has been an announcer and program host on the station for many years, Lisa Flynn. After the two-hour stint, Justice Ginsburg stayed at the station, and hosted a one-hour program on opera in the performance studio, which is a large studio used for live musical performances. There were singers who performed from the Ryan Center which is the training program for young singers of Lyric Opera of Chicago. It just so happens that the son of Justice Ginsburg, James Ginsburg, is the president and founder of a non-profit classical music recording label which issues recordings performed by musicians who make their home in the Chicago area. The music she introduced and the recordings she played were all on this local Chicago label, which is called Cedille Records. Justice Ginsburg is no Republican judge, having being nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by Bill Clinton.

Incidentally, Lisa Flynn along with the station's program manager have been doing half-hour live broadcasts from the Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland. They will broadcast a whole recital with the winner of the competition. In the competive world of being a professional musician, where there are many very talanted people, winning a prestigious international competition helps one to get appearances through the recognition that it brings.

Perhaps if more people learned Arabic, or other languages spoken in Islamic-majority countries, that would in some way help Westerners to better understand people in those countries. But human spoken and written languagues only seem to be able to go so far in allowing people to communicate their viewpoints and differences in a constructive way, or to avoid conflicts.

Just to be clear, I never stated that the arts should be the only thing that should be taught, although in any number of larger cities, there are performing and visual arts high schools, or academies, which recognize that students with special talent need a somewhat specialized, especially creative environment with more than one qualified teacher to help develop their interests and talents and advise them. A career as an actor, dancer, or musician in any area of music would be particularly competitive, and a person has to be realitic as well as very well-trained to have any hope of making a living at it. As I stated above, a nationwide music education program in Venezula has been internationally recognized as having made a substantial, positive difference in the lives of kids from poor or working-class families in that country. In America, we have too many kids carrying machine guns in their violin cases. It seems like a no-brainer that it would be better if more of them were carrying actual violins, or other instruments, instead. The insensitive nature of many Americans is made clear to me not only by various news stories but by behavior that I sometimes observe in everyday life. Knowing pratical things often involves increased consumption and raising the material standard of living. The arts, including music, are not practical. Perhaps they can certain teach things which non-fiction or preaching to people cannot. Staying at home playing an instrument alone or with others, painting, making a sculpture, or reading a novel or play are an alternative to going to the mall, supermarket, or looking at cars at car dealerships which seem to line certain streets.

It is interesting (and strange) that those who might tend to complain when they feel their freedom of speech is being interrupted have to criticize someone else's freedom to make some points that might otherwise be overlooked.

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Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Robindell, this thread that you started is heretical, anti-American, counter-cultural to the core ... and I love ya for it! I grew up in a house where my parents, who couldn't play an instrument, nor their three sons, nevertheless had an ear, a gifted ear, for good high quality classical music. When I say classical, I mean grand opera classical. When they passed away they held shared tix on the orchestra level of the Met in NY and boy, was I spoiled. All they needed to rest their aging eyes was a driver, ah, but depending on the opera. Okay, I could be fussy. But I'd kill for Carmen, Madame Butterfly, Wagner ... and expect a good meal for the troubles of driving both or just my dad if the show was a bomb that went on too long and the composer deliberately turned it into a shouting match to justify his pay. (Proof that artists are just as craven as the rest of us when it comes to eating and sleeping in a bed below a solid roof.) And despite the way the "contemporary" judges of culture want us to believe, one doesn't have to be hoity toity to create and appreciate high-art because it's out there for everybody and yes, it's a lot free-er and more accessible than ever.

It's also a lot more comprehendable, identifiable and easier to "warm up to" than say a hundred-zillion-megawattage of heavy rock n' roll "music" that'd make Joshua's blowing down Jericho's walls sound like recording of Taps. The kind of rock "music" just described would leave Jericho looking like the Russian Tsarbomba just flattened the place. (And yet, yet, the philistines behind that crap managed to get some very entreprenurial "Christian Contemporary Music 'artists'" to violate our houses of worship. If the purpose is to drive the devil away, it'll do. But could they leave us with samples of His Peace afterwards?

Parents are the key. I grew up as the third boy in an Irish Catholic family and the son of two kids who grew up down the street from each other, learned to appreciate the same higher level of music (without turning down their noses at those who loved the swing era and other popular music of their time) ... but they created a Service Family, meaning my brothers and I grew up on military bases in the US and on overseas posts in Morocco and West Germany. What a boon that was for my dad. Every Saturday, the Met Opera on AFN, clear as a bell no matter where we were inside southern Germany and we didn't have a television over there because the same AFN that mastered "GI Radio" botched that end of their duties. German TV was fine if you could make out enough German. Still, we managed to live off the radio, bought records from the PX and got in as much live music, concerts, as we could.

We were pretty spoiled insofar as our "cultural upbringing" was concerned. If we wanted to listen to Peter Paul and Mary or the Chad Mitchell Trio and Kingston Trio ... and little did we know they were "being watched" during the early sixties, and I suppose Pete Seger if we wanted, but our tastes then weren't into him yet. Maybe that's be cause (LOL) the guy ordering records for PX's was told VERBOTEN. While a lot of our friends thought music ended at the Beach Boys and/or Country/Western, but we were the oddballs and thank God for it. My dad was stationed in Wiesbaden which had its own beautiful Opera Haus and of course, the big one in Frankfurt was a half-hour, or 15 min's German driving time away. But that could be a ride with the Valkires.

No sooner than he retired from the Air Force to work at Umass/Amherst, my dad was religiously hooked to the local PBS station, WFCR, which for him was very concidently and conveniently located down the hall. We weren't cultural snobs and that was verboten as well, but we couldn't help acquiring some of that dreaded elitist social disease, just as one "acquires" a taste for Scotch, but not bad Scotch. I've gotta take my mind out to that great cultural Valhalla where Chris Matthews is ready interview that paradigm of American culture ... Wayne Newton. Hey, we all need a laugh, right?

Steven.PBarrett
Joined:
Nov. 1, 2010 10:01 am

It takes "time" to fully appreciate the classics. I allocate several hours a week to do that. No distractions,..just the music. My own favorites are Beethoven's 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th symphonies.

It was playing in my High School's concert band that kept me from dropping out of school even though I was a straight A student with very little effort. Music enriched my life so much at that time, I didn't want to give it up.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I have a book called Music, the Brain and Ecstasy which reports findings on how listening to music has a positive effect on brain chemistry and on one's mental state, with such substances as seratonin. There are still many people thoroughout the country who study music or listen to classical music, even though retail CDs are hard to come by unless you buy them from a Web site, for any kind of music, let alone classical. I am glad to hear that you two gentlemen who responsed post 58 and 59 have such a positive view and deep understanding of what I have tried to point out here. It should be noted that in America, we have produced quite a few so-called classical composers. Duke Ellington, for example, put together a jazz suite based completely on Tchaikovsky's world-famous Christmas-time ballet, The Nutcracker, and the suite that is derived from it. Several people in Chicago, including some local music critics, have criticized the programming of the Chicago Symphony for being too conventional, playing the standard repertoire, such as the great Beethoven symphonies Poly just mentioned above, but ignoring lesser-known composers and compossitons with merit of their own, especially music by some of these American composers. William Schuman, not to be confused with the 19th century's Robert Schumann, wrote a number of symphonies that are sometimes played on the radio. Sam Barber has several great pieces, beyond his well-known Adgio for Strings. Aaron Copeland wrote some worthwhile works, including a kind of concerto for orchestra and organ I once heard played live by an orchestra which had to rent an expensive electric organ just for the performance, and other pieces, that aren't performed very often. Most people know him for Applachian Spring, Billy the Kid, A Lincoln Portrait, or perhaps El Salon Mexico. The criticism I think is that audiences are too closed-minded to unfamiliar music, or, in essence, that they are TOO CONSERVATIVE, musically speaking, that is. Not all 20th century and contemporary classical music is 12 tone serial or completely dissonant-sounding. We do have a history of American music outside of jazz. All of these great composers from the past all have great orginality. I met the host of the NPR program "From the Top", which features young musicians, some as young as 12, as well as others who are high school seniors, who are like professional virtuosos, even at their young age. Some of them end up going to the Jacob School of Music at Indiana University, the world's largest music school. Some receive a Jack Cook Foundation scholarship to study music, and that scholarship is associated with the program, as is its main sponsor, Boston's New England Conservatory of Music. The shows are recorded in halls all over the country, with young musicians from all over. It gives hope for the future of music performance.

It was pointed out by someone way above this post, earlier on, that some rock musicians (as well as some jazz artists) were classically trained. There are some crossover compositions, and I think Billy Joel has written at least one orchestra work which he considers to be classical.

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Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

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