Culture Counter Culture, Pt. 2

What is it about the music industry that seems to dissuade so many talented artists? Some suggest that physical beauty might place an insurmountable obstacle in the way of an artist being accepted as such. But it could just come down to money … or could it?

You Used to Like Terrible Music

Isaac Schankler

I’m going to admit what is probably my deepest, darkest musical secret. Of all the potentially career-ending things I’ve said online, this may potentially be the worst. Here we go…

It Isn’t Over Because “the Fat Lady Wasn’t Singing”

Anna Nicole poster on Subway

Although the president of Local 802 implied that “abandon[ing] an accessible repertoire … resulted in financial disaster” for New York City Opera, most NYCO premiere performances I have attended over the years were packed. In fact, every opera company in the United States would better serve American audiences by presenting more contemporary American operas.

Culture Counter Culture


Today’s world of music, while filled with heartfelt respect and affection, is also filled with contradictions and subterfuge that can lead many to psychic states ranging from hilarious disbelief to despondent bitterness.

The Medium

Isaac Schankler

It might be a good idea to imagine a new middle ground between artist and audience, a new medium. But it’s hard to imagine who will occupy that role. Who will advocate for our music, if not us?

Learn How To Learn How To Learn: On Being a Self-Taught and a Non-Self-Taught Composer


I have had a somewhat ambiguous relationship to music education throughout my life. Early guitar lessons were more of a straitjacket than a path to musical creativity, and I ran away from the teacher during my sole piano lesson. I only studied composition formally for one semester and never did anything I was assigned to do. Yet I no longer brag about being self-taught, because many teachers have influenced me.

Jazz in Education

Russian Jazz Book 1926

There are three ways of learning any subject: (1) mentorship, (2) independent scholarship, and (3) the academic setting. For reasons of racial disparity, jazz was primarily learned throughout the 20th century by independent scholarship, coupled with mentorship; the latter being largely part-and-parcel of on-the-job training.

Standards and Creativity

National Coalition for Core Arts Standards

The point of playing clarinet in a public school setting isn’t to prepare for a career in a symphony orchestra, but to allow students to see themselves, their work, and their life through a new, creative lens.

Reflections on Liberal Arts and Late Bloomers

Vassar College library

I am quite certain that I would not be a composer today were it not for having received an eclectic liberal arts undergraduate education, and I think there are plenty of young people out there now who, like my younger self, need something a bit different than the laser-focused, technical musical education one might receive at a conservatory or through some other types of programs.

On Lying To My Students

Music on blackboard

I think we have a duty beyond simply teaching the material. We must also justify it and show how the knowledge we’re imparting is vital, interesting, and beautiful. Yet while music theory, and the fascinatingly intricate way it interacts with actual music, is all three of these things, four-part voice leading exercises are often none of these things.