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CLASSICAL  January 2007

CLASSICAL January 2007

Subject:

Re: Music Appreciation in School

From:

Dave Lampson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 12 Jan 2007 16:15:20 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (67 lines)

Jon Gallant related a story from Mr. Slichta:

> "That fall, in a New York City public school, I had to attend
> a twice weekly class called Music Appreciation. The idea was
> to train us to enjoy classical music. The method was to play the
> piece through, and then, in subsequent 'quiz' classes, to start
> an unannounced record and award a point to the first raised hand
> that correctly identified it--the boys being pitted against the
> girls.

Oh no, not a little competition!?!  We all know what a total failure
competition is when it comes to challenging and bringing out the best
in people.  And especially "pitting" (was an actual pit dug?) the sexes
against each other!  How could they?  Well, at least we've come a long
way from those barbaric days.

> To help us remember the title and composer of each piece,
> we learned to sing a little jingle to each melody. For example:
> This is the symphony / that Schubert wrote and never finished.

Now this, I agree, totally sucks.

> ...  Such were my introductions to classical music, with diverse
> results.  Sixty five years later, I don't merely dislike "Voices
> of Spring", I hate it, almost as much as I hate "Happy Birthday
> to You", which makes me so rigid with revulsion that I can barely
> blow out the candles."

Reading this paragraph I can't help but think there are issues here
with Mr. Slichta that go well beyond music or music appreciation courses.
Seeking professional help is the typical advice for situations like this,
I believe. :-)

Jon Gallant:
>I enjoyed the same educational experience as Mr. Slichta, and it
>elicited in me a deep loathing for Schubert's 8th symphony that lasted
>about 40 years, but finally evaporated.

I attended a number of elementary schools (located in Illinois, Minnesota,
and Oklahoma, seven schools by the time I left 8th grade) and I must
have been of a generation where music was taught very regularly as
part of the general curriculum.  One of my most profound and memorable
experiences came in 5th grade music appreciation class.  I remember the
teacher gave us some background on how music could be used to depict
the physical world.  I remember her talking about Beethoven's Pastoral
Symphony, and the various sections depicted nature scenes.  She then
turned off the classroom lights, encouraged us to close out eyes and
listen closely, then put on Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite.  As each section
was played, she would quietly describe the scene being set to music.
What a powerful experience this was for me.  I probably would have come
to music anyway, and eventually back to classical music as an adult, but
I can't help but think this had an affect on how I listened to music
from that point forward, which I think is the whole point of such classes.

I had a number of other experiences in music class, mostly marked by
boredom.  But I can say it was never actually traumatic.  In fact, short
of some Clockwork Orangian arrangement, it's a little hard for me to
image it ever being as traumatic as described.

And I have to wonder: is this really the message we want to send?  If
the concept of "music appreciation" is such an insidious thing, that
perhaps it's best to avoid music education entirely to avoid psychic
injury in children.

Feeling peevish.... (blame it on the warmonger-in-chief) :-)

Dave

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