The Good Fodder

Melinda Bargreen of the Seattle Times breaks down for us the national classical-music summit held in Seattle last month. The focus was on revitalizing and securing classical music’s future. The conclusion: education.

It’s a good column. You should read it.

I have a bunch of convoluted opinions, but I’d rather hear yours, because this concerns us all. Cheers.


Sator Arepo said...

Good piece. Music education is outstanding.

Wait, wait. So...the solution isn't snarky blogging. Shit!

Gustav said...

It's a nice article. Although, I'm not sure I believe that education and cultivating the young will really change the lot of classical music in this country. 1 in 4 Americans can't find the United States on a map of the world -- this to me, says more than just a failing in our schools, but more about a reverence of ignorance, a cult of the happily stupid. Classical music, as much as people bemoan the fact, is an elistist undertaking. And it will remain that way as long as society values culture centered around game shows which, at most, require your ability to count to 26, and who's currently pregnant and in rehab. As long as this is true, classical music will continue to plug along in the periphery.

And frankly, the elistism doesn't bother me. It doesn't bother me that more frat guys don't come to the symphony or soccer moms and her litter of pups aren't making the new music rounds. Classical music is for elites, it's played by elites who were taught by elites! It's fine wine, good food, books not on the NY Times bestseller list, PBS and NPR, knowing that Jesus isn't magic, and not loving Raymond.

I'm happy with that.

Empiricus said...

I know that I do not love Raymond.

I also know that one of the goals of education is to foster critical thinking.

Thus, more of this education stuff can't hurt us. Can it? Why not give it a try? Why keep classical music exclusive?

And SA: Snarky blogging is a part of music education. Snark201, at Disney State College, one credit (it may be repeated for additional credits).

Gustav said...

First of all, let me say that I don't want to sound overly negative or critical.

Secondly, you're right about education, Empiricus. I couldn't be more of a fan of education, and I don't besmirch any attempt to educate. I am also very encouraged by the various successes around the country in getting young people involved in classical music. What I am saying, however, is that I believe the time has passed where a good PR campaign will bring classical music back to some sort of prominence or respectibility. We've reached a tipping point where anything intellectual or remotely rooted in academia is meaningless to the greater culture.

Here's a test: Can you name a Nobel prize winner? If you can, ask your neighbor? [If they name Al Gore, ask them to name another.] How about this, did you read the last pulitzer prize winner for fiction? How many people do you know that did...the best example of literature from last year? How about something more currently relevant...who was the first African-American to run for president? [okay, that's a hard one, it was Shirley Chisolm in 1972, but we should know it...she was also the first woman.]

My point is, and I only speak from a place of disappointment, the country that I live in couldn't care less about these things. It's not a crime not to know these things, but it is a crime that no one cares...(and clearly, it's not the Detritus crowd to whom I am speaking).

I am enthusiastically for the teaching of art and music to each and every child, but it's going to take a hell of lot more than a trip to the symphony once a year. I'm not trying to be a naysayer, but I think that as advocates of classical music we should not be placated by "Night on Bald Mountain" on halloween.

Again, I don't mean to sound negative, because I am not...I just have higher expectations.

Empiricus said...

I guess that I think, to a certain degree, that there is no reason why classical music can't be thought about, or criticized, or rejected, in a rational manner.

Idealism is the stuff. It's, without trying to sound too preachy, the arbiter of change. I don't see any reason to abandon the hope that the average Joe (given the rise of the middle class and its marginalized sense of culture) can't make an informed decision about what he/she is interested in, assuming an average playing field.

Education, in this sense, is, and always has been, key, qua critical thinking.

Because the middle class makes more money than before, traditional economic theories posit a rise in the appreciation of classical music. What happened?

Zero musical education? A change in priorities? How? Why?

Can it be better? Can a snarky little blog help?