Monday, September 30, 2013

The Measure of Your Wealth


The Navajos believed that the measure of one's wealth was evident in the number of songs one possessed (or knew).

By that reasoning I would be VERY wealthy!

Have you ever really thought about how many songs you know?

For the sake of this blog just think of songs with words, not instrumental works.

Think about this:

~ The church hymnal has, say, 1000 songs in it. How many of those do you know? For me, I have to qualify this because while I can SING every song in the book (it is my job to be able to do that) I do not KNOW every song in the book.

~ Songs from childhood. Songs your parents, grandparents, etc sang to you. My momma sang "Roll the Gospel Chariot Along," "On Top of Old Smokey," and many more. Nursery rhyme songs. What about "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "The Itsy, Bitsy Spider?" 

~ Songs on the radio. How many songs there? Don't just limit yourself to what you listen to now. Think back to your youth. For me, it was WLS, the "World's Largest Station!" out of Chicago. My sister played it on the clock radio every night when we went to bed. "Billy Don't Be A Hero," "One Tin Soldier," and "Joy to the World" (the "Jeremiah was a Bullfrog" version, not "The Lord is Come" version) come to mind. [Yes, I know I'm dating myself with those songs!]

~ Songs from camp. For me, that would involve literally years of Bible camps and Girl Scout camps. "Walking down Heaven's Road," "Unto Thee, O Lord" and numerous other devotional songs. The "Billboards" song, "Barges" and "Hillbilly Will" from G.S. camp.

~ Songs from choral involvement. I can't even begin to count these. Let's see, I started choir in fifth grade. Yikes! Thirty-nine years of choir with, say, 45 songs per year.'s too late to do the math.

~ Folk Songs. These have been a part of my life from the time I was a child. My parents sang them to me. My teaching music following the Kodály method these last few years has introduced me to hundreds, if not thousands of these from the US and other countries.

~ Christmas Carols. 'Tis the season for singing after all. I can even remember when I first sang "O Come, All Ye Faithful."

~ What about those songs that you hear, then you find yourself singing and didn't even realize that you even knew the song.

Is it really even possible to tabulate the number of songs one knows?
My brain is tired just trying to account for the songs I've included here.
Regardless of the actual number and the fact that I will never get any real money for just knowing all my songs, I am truly blessed by the music - songs - that have been, are, and will be a part of my life.
Therein is my wealth.

Have you started counting yet?
Can you think of any I may not have listed here?
Something to think about...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Music: Reaching the Unreachable...All in Good Time


He was a 7 year old child with the mental ability of a 6 month old.  Yes, you read that right, a six MONTH old. I was asked to sit in on planning sessions for and about him because his parents had noticed he responded to music on the radio and TV. I created a musically stimulating plan of action. Over the course of the next year he responded, if not flourished. When music was a part of his day.
He was a defiant 5 year old who, when asked to join the class in the circle, told me I was "not his mother!" Class continued. Eventually the musical activities drew him into the circle and he edged himself between me and the child next to me. I just made a place for him and didn't say a word. I think he wanted to be a part of the action. Part of the music.
She was the shyest new student I'd ever met. She didn't talk much or smile, for that matter. In music she just sat and watched. I grew discouraged that no matter what I tried to do I could not reach her. Then one day I met her mother. Her mother said she couldn't keep the little girl from singing all the home. She thanked me for making her daughter so happy. With music.
Each year I took groups of children to sing carols at the local nursing home. I prepared them not only musically, but also for what they could expect from the residents there. I especially wanted them to understand that when we were in the Alzheimer's ward the residents might not respond, but that inwardly they would be "hearing" the music. One time as we sang a resident was singing loudly along with the children. I noticed the nurses and assistants talking together, pointing to the patient and some were wiping tears from their eyes. Soon a doctor arrived as though he'd been called in. You see, the first outward response this patient had made was to my children's singing Christmas carols. It was the music that got through to him.
Fast forward to yesterday.

I was sharing musical activities with a group of music teachers that they might use in their classrooms. One member of the group, perhaps in her 80s and a former child prodigy and professional concert performer, declined the packet of craft sticks I was handing out to everyone tersely telling me that she would just observe and add her comments to what I had to share. I told her I had enough for everyone and if she decided she wanted one she could have one. She said, "No, I will not be needing that." Well, I had to go on with my part and thought if she wanted to watch that was fine. She just reminded me of others (some mentioned above) that had not wanted to participate.

I finished my first activity waiting to see what she would add to the discussion. 


I collected the items, then went around and handed out a Baggie with some poker chips for a meter activity. 

I must admit I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from smiling as, when I got to her, she was holding out her hand.

I put the Baggie in her hand and went on with my presentation.

She participated in every activity after the first one and nothing was said other than a "That was fun!" at the very end.

Me, I just smiled.

Again, it was the music.
For you see, I have learned that some students, regardless of their age, make music in their own good time.  I have learned the lesson of patience and acceptance.

I have learned that music can reach the unreachable.

All in good time.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

At least we have their music. When Bands Disband


Pictured above is a classmate of mine from high school. Naturally over the past few years I've been drawn to her pictures because she is jamming down on her guitar in many pictures I've seen.  

I've never heard her play.
I've never heard her band.

I just like that I once knew her and that she plays music.
Rock on!

(I am just assuming her she plays in a rock band. Again, I don't know.)

Yesterday she announced she was leaving her band.
After 12 years.
12 years of making music together.

It'll be a big change for her.
It'll be a change for her band mates.
It'll be a change for her fans.
It'll be a change for me - and I haven't heard her play.

This made me think about when a group disbands or a player leaves.
The music may falter, but what of the people involved?

Remember when the Beatles broke up? I was quite young at the time but I seem to recall hearing something about it. It was acrimonious. Paul went his own way. John went solo. Then we lost John abruptly and the chance of the Beatles reuniting was gone forever. 

At least we have their music.

Remember when Dolly Parton left Porter Wagner? I was just talking with a friend about that last night as we listened to a rendition of one of Dolly's songs. Dolly wrote "I Will Always Love You" for Porter. His career was never the same. Hers skyrocketed.

At least we have their music.

Remember when Lionel Richie left the Commodores for his solo career. They couldn't survive without him. His voice was irreplaceable.

At least we have their music.

Closer to home.

Remember when Jordan Tang left the Jackson Symphony Orchestra last year after 26/27 years? I do. I was at his last concert. I talked with the Maestro about this transition in his life. He vowed he would still be composing and making music.

At least we have their music.

But we will never see these groups intact again. (Ok, maybe the Commodores. Someday.)
These memories are from the vantage point of observer.
Sure it impacts us as fans.

But what about those involved - those leaving and those who are left behind?
Sometimes we just think of ourselves. But we don't always know the whole story. Nor do we need to.

So next time when you hear of a group's breakup, don't just feel bad for the new music you won't be hearing and say to yourself, "At least we have their music."

Remember there are people involved who have invested a good portion of their lives to make that music you enjoy. 
Remember the impact it is having on then and that there is often more than what the media tells us.

Oh, and my classmate made my day this morning. After I had written her requesting permission to use her photo since she had inspired this blog she sent me this message,

"I never told you this and wish I would were always an awesome musician and am so happy that you are sharing the magic that is music."

Made. My. Day.

At least I have my music.

Joyful Expressions


A friend has a photography studio named "Joyful Expressions."  Seeing this run through the newsfeed made me think about the phrase in terms of singing, not photography (though it most definitely applies there as well).

How often do you sing?
Me, I tend to sing a good part of the day.

Alone and with others.
A varied repertoire of music.
(An ever so gentle nod to the National Standards of Music Education.)

But I digress ...

How often do you sing without really realizing the meaning of the words you are saying?
I know I don't always pay attention to the words I'm singing.

Sometimes I have to catch myself upon the realization that the words might not be something I would want to be singing.

I wonder if those celebrities who sing concerts every day actually sing with expression and meaning or do the songs, after a while, just become an act?

Makes you think, huh?

Does it make you rethink the money you spend on their concerts?

I imagine not for, after all, they put on a good show.
Even if it is just an act.

Today I watched two men sing with joyful expressions. I was close enough to see it in their facial expressions and in their eyes.

They made me want to sing along.
So I did.

Regardless of when or where you next sing, think about what you are singing. 
Think about the words.
And maybe, just maybe, your joyful expression will encourage someone else to sing along!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Classical Club Scene


Did you know it even existed? I'm referring to the classical club scene.

Yes, that scene that was front and center in Saturday Night Live.

The club scene has expanded it horizons to include classical performers.

In the past 15 years there has been a surge in the number of musicians getting a performance degree; however, the number of jobs available for these performers has decreased. This leaves many musicians with the chops, but not the jobs.

Hence their entrance into the club scene as freelance musicians.

This idea is not new.

Bach used to play reading sessions in coffee shops. 
    ( Hmmmm, I wonder if this is what prompted his Coffee Cantata?!? )
Schubert played for dance parties.
Mozart struggled to make money as a freelance artist often playing at venues seeming to be beneath his genius.

For many, then and now, the classical club scene is a performance venue. A place where musicians can make money. A place where musicians can reach audiences that would never set foot in a concert hall. Not only this, it is a place that reaches out to young audiences, those in their 20s or 30s.

With the graying of the audience of the symphony orchestra, the future of the symphony may be dependent in part on the classical musicians who today draw the young listeners in the classical club scene.

Oh, by the way, these performers love playing in the orchestra. It is difficult to deny one's first love.
They just do both: the classical orchestra AND the classical club scene.

Now you know!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Web Quest: In Search Of...Pinto. Um, Who?

I decided to do a web quest similar to the one I had my music appreciation students complete today. 

At a loss for a topic on a whim I searched for musicians who had been born on this day, September 25th.  While there were several I was already familiar with, I thought, "Why not learn about someone new?"

Hence, George Frederic Pinto.

A few facts: 
~ English composer.
~ Depending on the source the years of his life were 1785-1806. He died at age 21. Of dissipation it is said. Did he waste away due to a health issue or did he do as many young men today do and party too much? My limited web quest didn't tell me the answer.
~ His real first name was "Sanders" or "Saunders," but he took on his maternal grandfather's name "George." I wonder why.
~ He studied with Salomon, violinist, composer, and best known as concert organizer. This guy also worked with Haydn too.
~ He wrote 5 piano sonatas & 3 violin sonatas as well as some art songs. Quite an accomplishment for such a young man.
~ His music has been compared to that of Franz Schubert. High praise indeed!

Music Reflection: 
A quick analysis of his Minuet in Ab Major (found online) for piano reveals a lyrical melody that is easily sight read. I find it interesting that the Trio section is in E Major. The transition to this is an odd (to me at least) enharmonic passage that makes one think he is leading to the new key, but right before the Trio begins he cadences in Ab Major.  I'll have to play through this on the piano to see how it all meshes together. [Perhaps a task for a weekend break from writing.]

A couple of pictures of him. However, I wonder which is the original for, if you will notice, it appears to be the exact same portrait though one image has a violin nestled on his shoulder.  Hmmm... Love the tousled hair though! A sign of his youth.


Learning something new each day is important. This brief little web quest allowed me to do a little research, examine a new piece of music, and listen to his works on YouTube.
A nice musical way to end my day!
Perhaps you could do a web quest on a topic that interests you! Good luck!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Haiku? Don't Mind If I Do!


Ok, something totally random and probably my shortest blogpost yet.

I was reading my Twitter feed. (Yes, I tweet! Follow me @musicalsojourn.)

An NPR reporter had tweeted a haiku he'd written while waiting for his flight. It was very clever.  Here is his tweet:

@nprscottsimon: Travel haiku: The more delayed the flight/the further the gate/and later the luggage.

This prompted me to look up the specifics about the Japanese haiku. I recall writing them as a young school girl. I remember laboring over having to write them.  It was so hard!

So I thought I'd dedicate the time I normally spend on this blog to writing a haiku.

I think it took me less than two minutes. Somehow it was easier than I recall. 
Maybe it's because I can count syllables better now than then. 
Maybe I know bigger words - words with more than one syllable.


Anyway here is my attempt.

For those English or haiku pros out there, the page I found on haikus said the pattern was 17 syllables divided 5-7-5 though it did say the patterns often varied nowadays.
For the poets who might read this, I think this is the first verse I've attempted in since that schoolgirl day. 

*deep breath*

Musical Haiku

All throughout my day
Music encompasses me
Makes my life complete.

Musical sojourns
Permeate my thoughts daily
So I share with you.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Maestro Lift

To just see the phrase "Maestro Lift" one might be confused by it.

"Maestro" usually refers to  conductor. In this usage it does.

The word "lift" is a bit vague.

It could naturally mean the lifting of one's arms to conduct. However, this term is used in the literal sense: that of physically lifting the maestro (conductor).

Maestro James Levine's return to the podium is highly anticipated. Especially anticipated since he will be returning to the podium after 2-year absence due to a fall that injured his spine.

He is returning to the podium with the aid of a special ramp, lift, & podium that will raise him in hhis wheelchair to the height necessary for the orchestra to see him.

This is wonderful news, but not because an amazing conductor is returning.

It is wonderful because it shows that having a disability should not deter anyone from making music. Modifications can be done to enable even someone with the severest disability to make music.

It is a reminder to me that I should do what is necessary, even when the challenges require clever modifications, to make music within the grasp of all people.

As one who has taught music to those nearly every possible impairment I understand and embrace those opportunities that make me think outside the box.

Bravo, Maestro Levine!
May the music play on!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

To The Dump! Dump! Dump!

Text from my brother: "Picked up what I think is a trumpet at the dump. Haven't opened case but looks like right size. Dump man said he couldn't blow through it. Valves prob mismatched."

My response: "Wow! That is cool."

So many things come to mind upon reading this text.

First, kudos to my brother for snagging the instrument. If it is a trumpet and playable that was a terrific find!

Second, the reference "Dump man" makes me laugh. It's not a phrase I've heard too often before.

Third, the image of the dump man trying to blow through the horn is hilarious to me. It's not everyday you go to the dump and see someone trying to blow through an instrument.  I admit I've been known to blow through an instrument or two without really thinking about its cleanliness; however, I don't think I'd do that at the dump or on anything I found at the dump without cleaning it first. That's one brave dump man.

Fourth, and perhaps more importantly, it never ceases to distress me when I hear of instruments being discarded. Sure, as a musician, I know that some instruments could and should be labeled useless. However, most instruments can be salvageable. Even if only to be made in to lamps.

I think of the child whose only instrument is the one that someone deemed useless. Many great musicians have gotten their start on an old beat up instrument someone else didn't want. And I'm not talking about children in third world countries. It's happened here in the USA. The ones that come to mind are some jazz greats.

Fifth, great music can come from the dump. Have you seen this viral video? It sure may change your view of instruments that come from the dump.  And/Or humble you for wastefulness.

Landfill Harmonic

Sixth, a plea: if you, my faithful readers, have any instruments tucked away hidden in a closet, under a bed, or just somewhere gathering dust, please consider donating them to either your local school band program or offer it to a child who might not get to join band, if not for your donation.  If you are not sure what to do talk to your local music teacher or band director. Even donating it to Goodwill might get it into the hands of a beginning musician of any age.

Oh, yes, text update:

Me: "Is it a trumpet."

Brother: "Cornet. Needs cleaned. I blew air through with no prob. Bundy in rough shape but usable I think."


I know what you're thinking.
I didn't ask. :)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

It Just Happens

When people listen to some piece of music and say they like it I will often ask what they liked about it. Normally they describe it in physical ("I like to dance to it.") or emotional terms (It makes me happy."), but usually not in musical terms.

My school has fine arts objectives for our students where they are asked to respond verbally or in writing to a work of art. In my case the "art" is music. I tell them they can't just say they like or dislike a song they must give a reason, a musical reason supporting their opinion.

With younger students I would ask the same thing telling them to use their music vocabulary in their response.

For most it is a chore.  

I offer leading statements to help them form their answers.

It is still a struggle for some.

More guidance.

More discontent.

Then, it just happens.

At a totally unrelated moment a student declares, "The melody in that song is accompanied by chords so it has a homophonic texture."

(Upon hearing this I smile inwardly so as to not draw attention to the fledgling musician and, by doing so, frighten him or her into silence.)

Count them!


Six musical vocabulary terms!

"The melody in that song is accompanied by chords so it has a homophonic texture."

It just happens!

Quite without intent.
Quite naturally.

Because of this phenomenon I rarely get discouraged by the struggle some students have putting their thoughts related to music into musical terminology. I keep teaching them without hesitation.

Because it just happens!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Homemade Music


There was once a day that if music was to be a part of your daily life, it had to be homemade.

Young people today can't imagine not being able to log-on, hook up, or turn up their music. However this, mere listening, does not require "homemade music."

*I* can't remember a time when I couldn't turn it on (be it the radio or record player) to listen to music.

But, once there was a time when, if you wanted music, you had to create it yourself.
Homemade music.

And it is not as long ago as the Renaissance period (1450-1600). During this time people were expected to be able to contribute musically to the evening's entertainment. If unable to do so they quite possibly were not invited to social gatherings.

Where would you stand if this was the policy today?
Would you like it if you were only invited to people's houses based on whether you could sing or play an instrument?
How would you rate?

I imagine some would be left at home.

Fast forward a couple centuries.

During the 1800s it was a status symbol to own a piano. It wasn't just for show or as a dust collector as often happens today.  It was played. Children and young ladies were tutored in the playing of music, if not on the piano then on some other appropriate instrument.

Fast forward to the 20th century.

I have heard those in their 70s and older remark about the times when they gathered around the piano and just sang the evening away.

I can't imagine a more glorious way to spend time with friends and family.

When's the last time you've done that? 
I don't imagine you're alone in that response.


I would like to see a revival of homemade music
I would like to see people gather socially for the sole purpose of making music together.
I plan on doing more than just write of this here. 
Stay tuned.
We shall one day gather to create homemade music.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I Hadn't Thought Of It That Way

From a blog by Mark Oppenheimer: 
"I think it’s especially important that all public schools offer music and other arts in their curricula—both for their educational value, and so arts instruction does not become the province only of Americans who can afford to pay for after-school classes."


Recently I blogged about music advocacy (refer to "The SHOULDS of Music Advocacy") so I don't mean to have similar blog posts frequently, but it is likely to happen and I don't believe too much can be said about music advocacy. 

So here we go...again.

Upon reading the above statement I was struck by the last phrase (in bold print). 

Most of the time arts advocacy focuses on the lifelong enrichment a student receives from music (in my case) and/or the jobs that will be lost.

It is rarely mentioned that if a music program is cut that some students, who are able, will continue to have music in their lives. It will just be outside of the school setting in the form of private lessons or perhaps in church settings.

[As an aside I can see a resurgence of the church being the place for music as it was in the Middle Ages, but I digress.]

But what happens to the student who does not have the financial means with which to secure private instruction? 

Private instruction is not cheap nowadays. And with more students than private teachers I can see the costs going up.

I was fortunate to have private lessons in both voice and trombone when I was in high school. My parents saw to it that I got to my lessons. I worked at babysitting and delivering a paper route so I could have the luxury of private lessons.

If music is taken from the schools this would effectually mean that a percentage of the children going to school would never get a chance to experience music because they couldn't afford it or their parents couldn't/wouldn't spend the money on it.

There is a reason why education is free in the United States.
There is yet another reason why MUSIC education should remain free in the United States.

I was wishfully telling a friend about what I would do if I won the lottery.

[Disclaimer: I do not play the lottery.] 

After I paid off my house, bought a car, helped my church, helped my family...

I would open a music school for my community where all music instruction would be free.  The only limit would be having enough time and teachers to teach.

My friend said that's all well and good, but that it would put music teachers who depend on income from private lessons out of a job.

I told my friend that I would hire the teachers. That I'd said music instruction would be free, not that the teachers wouldn't be paid.
After all, I'd have just won the lottery.

[Disclaimer: I do not play the lottery.]

And *I* couldn't teach a whole community music all by myself!!

But wouldn't that be grand!?!

A whole community making music!

Perhaps this might become more than wishful thinking one day!

As the song says, "Who knows tomorrow brings?"

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Breaking Pointe: A Reality Show About Ballet


Who knew?

What you may ask?

That there was a reality show about ballet?

     Yes, there is. It is featured on the CW channel and follows the activities of Ballet West, headquartered in Salt Lake City, UT.

That I watch reality shows?

     Yes, I do. 

I do because they often give me a glimpse inside something that I more than likely will never do. Example, Tyra Banks' America's Top Model or the one about the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. I will never be in either of those settings as a participant.

I do because I learn something. Often a lot. Example, Top Chef or Next Food Network Star. I have learned about cooking foods and have expanded the types of food I will eat. (And I even cut my finger like those pro chefs do.)

I do especially when it highlights one of the arts. I've watched one about artists either on Bravo or TLC.  One about movie make up artists on Sci-Fi. Music shows: American Idol, The Voice, Sing Off, etc.  And then there are the ones about dance: Dance Moms, So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars. 

And this one, Breaking Pointe on CW.

I have really enjoyed watching the dancers dance from a better vantage point than I've ever had. I've enjoyed learning more vocabulary about ballet. I've watched the obvious hard work and, oftentimes, sacrifice it takes to be successful. I've seen the emotions the dancers go through as they deal with competition between each other, as they anxiously wait for casting lists to be posted, or, in recent episodes, as they waited for notification of whether they will be rehired, promoted, or get a contract.

The life of a ballet dancer.

Did you know that 
~ all dancers, regardless of their rank in the company, have a daily class in addition to rehearsals?
~ the dancers are at the musical mercy of the orchestra conductor during a performance? If the conductor is not consistent with the tempo or takes it too fast or slow the affects the dancer's ability to move gracefully and flawlessly.
~ dancing is a passion that the dancers must do in order to lead happy, contented lives?
~ the ballet dancers must not only give performances to win the funding of patrons, but also schmooze with patrons to motivate them to offer more funding?
~ the dancers' feet take such abuse that they have bruises on their toes nearly all the time.
~ ballet tells a story, not only with the big, obvious movements but also the little nuances indicated with  the tilt of the head or the shape of the arm.

Yes, the show has the seemingly prerequisite amount of drama and romance, but I try to look beyond the TV intrigue to the life as a ballet dancer.

This post was prompted because I just read a blog describing how Ballet West is coordinating the construction of a new dance facility as well as a renovation of it performance venue. This venture will cost $13.5 million.  Ballet West has the cash in hand.

Ballet West, according to the blog, services 100,000 dancers and teachers in its area.


Can many, if any, other arts programs make this claim?

Very few, I imagine.

Has the company sold itself out to a reality show?

I don't think so. I believe someone in arts management was clever enough to market the company for this venture which has not only enabled it to raise/earn the necessary funding for their rehearsal/performing spaces, but also bring the art of ballet into more homes.

So, there's a little something you may not have known about me.
I'm not ashamed to say I watch reality shows, especially those that bring art in one form or another to the attention of the American public.
Dance on!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Crisis of Confidence

A Crisis of Confidence.

There are tips to prevent it.
There's even a movie about it.

I believe every performer has experienced this at some point in one's career.

What exactly do I mean?

     Attack of Nerves.

          Performance Anxiety.

               Stage Fright.


Stage fright is categorized as a subset of glossophobia, or fear of public speaking

Symptoms of Stage fright: Dry mouth. Tight throat. Sweaty hands. Cold hands. Shaky hands. Nausea. Fast pulse. Shaky knees. Trembling lips. Any out-of-the-ordinary outward or inward feeling that occurs before, or during, the beginning of a performance.
Even *S*T*A*R*S* get stage fright.


Andrea Bocelli (tenor), Renee Fleming (soprano), Glenn Gould (pianist), Rod Stewart (rocker),  Carly Simon (singer), Barbra Streisand (singer), ...

To name a few.

So, if these big stars are affected by stage fright AND willing to share it with the world, it is likely and common for musicians at any level to be affected by it.

The first step is realizing it is happening, understanding it is normal, and talking with other musicians about it. You may be able to learn something from their experiences that will help you.

Second, I cannot stress the importance of preparing fully for a performance. PRACTICE!!  There is a difference between honest-to-goodness stage fright and lack of preparation. If you are prepared, drawing upon muscle memory or innate responses can serve as back-up and potentially get you through. 

Third, if it happens (and it likely will), know that unless there is something medically wrong you will survive whatever symptoms plagued you. Learn the best way you can prevent it and deal with it.

It is unsettling...scary even.
It is embarrassing.
But, it is not the end of the world.

You will go on to sing or play another day.

The S-H-O-U-L-Ds of Music Advocacy

"With music education eliminated from many public schools, it's not getting any easier to cultivate the followers any art form needs if it's to flourish."

This is a scary thought. It was written in regards to the struggling budgets of many symphony orchestras.

I'd never really thought of the implications of eliminating music programs beyond the great loss it would be for the students and the loss of jobs for the teachers.

But what about the future? 

Students today should be the future purchasers of music albums and concert tickets, not to mention patrons of local arts organizations. 

Without music education those who should support the future of your local music programs and ensembles (symphony, opera company , and community choruses, bell choirs [tipping my hat for my friend's passion], and bands as well as those on the national scene) will not have the foundation upon which they might be so inclined to dole out a few dollars.

In my music survey courses we talk about how in the 1830s Lowell Mason advocated that music education should be a part of every child's training. We talk about John Knowles Paine who advocated in the late 1800s that college students should have a music appreciation class as part of their general education curriculum.

Perhaps society and education should harken back to these forefathers before the future fathers and mothers miss out on the foundation that nearly everyone who is reading this has been given.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Freedom of ...Music

                                         The Unhasu Orchestra, North Korea

Recent events reported out of North Korea are disturbing.

If you haven't heard, several musicians associated with the Unhasu Orchestra, including a young woman reportedly having been (at one time) a romantic interest of North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Un, have been executed. 

Executed because of some perceived failure on their part to fulfill the wishes (read "propaganda") of the government. I believe family members were also executed or imprisoned. This is to have taken place in the past few months.

Truth in this report is (unsurprisingly) denied by the North Korean government and is, as yet, unsubstantiated though the evidence is mounting that the executions did occur.

It is nearly impossible to imagine living in a place that imposes governmental propaganda on it musicians in 2013.

This is not the first time it has occurred in world history. I remind you of when the Soviets and Nazis were in power. Not just musicians, but all creative sorts, were given the option to comply with governmental directives or else. 

Or else they would be 
Or all of the above.

I recall reading about how Rachmaninov escaped Russia under the guise of touring to represent the many exceptional talents of the Russian government.  He left with his family and thus was able to leave his beloved homeland for good. Upon realizing Rachmaninov had duped the government, from then on when an artist left the country with intent to perform, teach, etc. the artist's family was not allowed to accompany them on the journey. Essentially the family members were held hostage until the artist returned to the country.

I cannot imagine living in such an environment.

We speak frequently of freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

How often do we consciously realize the glorious freedom we have to make MUSIC?

I mean, think about it. We can play/sing/compose any type of music whenever we want without fear of governmental retribution. We can listen to a seemingly infinite and varied supply of music. Our government, though with dwindling support in recent years, actually financially supports artistic endeavors. It even honors musical artists with prestigious awards.

So, when you pray prayers of thanksgiving for the freedoms our country affords, don't forget to pray for the freedom of music.

Not everyone is blessed as we are.