Blogs

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

Hogarth-Rake'sProgress

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

CelebratingMurphyTeaser

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.

Unteaching

Foggy River

The best teachers know that their truer calling is to engage aspects of musical experience that have become familiar and render them unfamiliar again. A great teacher must both illuminate the world for his or her students, and at the same time return parts of the illuminated world to a certain amount of mystery and confusion.

Perceptions of Success

Rob Deemer

Over the past several years, there have been a number of composers, performers, and ensembles that have caught the attention of those in the media. It would be very easy to infer that their music must not only be of high quality but of superior quality when compared with the work of those who are not being noticed…and therein lies the rub.