THE AVERAGE full-time college student spends only 2.76 hours per day on all education-related activities, according to a Heritage study. That includes class time (1.18 hrs./day) as well as study time (1.53 hrs./day). Over a week, that equals 19.3 hours. But students spend 31 hours per week on socializing and recreation.
Many students work harder than this, of course, but I have certainly seen my share of students who aren’t spending much time studying.
PATRICK DENEEN ON How a Generation Lost Its Common Culture.
My students are know-nothings. They are exceedingly nice, pleasant, trustworthy, mostly honest, well-intentioned, and utterly decent. But their brains are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation. They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten nearly everything about itself, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference to its own culture….
Some students, due most often to serendipitous class choices or a quirky old-fashioned teacher, might know a few of these answers. But most students have not been educated to know them. At best, they possess accidental knowledge, but otherwise are masters of systematic ignorance. It is not their “fault” for pervasive ignorance of western and American history, civilization, politics, art and literature. They have learned exactly what we have asked of them – to be like mayflies, alive by happenstance in a fleeting present.
Our students’ ignorance is not a failing of the educational system – it is its crowning achievement. Efforts by several generations of philosophers and reformers and public policy experts — whom our students (and most of us) know nothing about — have combined to produce a generation of know-nothings. The pervasive ignorance of our students is not a mere accident or unfortunate but correctible outcome, if only we hire better teachers or tweak the reading lists in high school. It is the consequence of a civilizational commitment to civilizational suicide. The end of history for our students signals the End of History for the West.
I find this generally true in my teaching as well, and I think it is symptom of a problem that sweeps beyond even the educational spectrum and into our culture itself.
PAUL BESTON: a review of How to Listen to Jazz. It’s a review of this book by Ted Gioia.
Gioia also explains the structure of jazz songs, about 95 percent of which, he says, follow a three-part structure of theme, variation (solos), and theme. He maps out jazz classics like Jelly Roll Morton’s “Sidewalk Blues,” Duke Ellington’s “Sepia Panorama,” and Charlie Parker’s rendition of “Night in Tunisia,” breaking them down into sections of bars—32 bars, 16 bars, 12 bars—and notating what’s happening in each one instrumentally. He encourages readers to play the songs with these “listening maps” in front of them. These frameworks prove useful in understanding how what sounds like a free-flowing performance is actually intricately constructed.
21ST CENTURY UPDATE: Amazing Revealing Video of A Singer During an MRI. German baritone Michael Voll sang a Wagner aria during an MRI scan. Voice students and teachers will want to see this!
THE DEATH OF THE HIGHBROW: A great article by Robert Tracinski on how musical culture has declined over history.
Popular music is fine. It’s fun, at least if it’s done right. But it tends to be ephemeral, dealing with relatively simple themes in a relatively simple manner, and its appeal is often tied to a time and place and ultimately retains a mostly nostalgic value.
Don’t tell the kids that. They’ll hate the idea that the cool, cutting-edge stuff that only they have discovered is really just building up the soundtrack they’ll listen to wistfully when they’re 50, their hair is thinning, and they’re recalling their lost youth. I have plenty of my own favorites that I still listen to because they recall a certain era and time of my life, but which I would not publicly defend as timeless or universal or, in some cases, particularly good.
PRACTICE IS IMPORTANT: Egyptian Orchestra Performs Painful Rendition of the French National Anthem.
Either that, or they did an amazing Ives-ian tone cluster arrangement.
A ROBOT CHOIR SINGS BEETHOVEN: I’m not particularly impressed with the singing, and even less so than the conducting. Perhaps this is good evidence of how difficult choral singing can be.