PETER WOOD has a great article on why High Art Deserves a Place in Higher Education: “To engage today’s students with the high arts requires giving students what may be their first real glimpses of serious art, their first real hearings of serious music, and so on. Creating the conditions for this in the contemporary university requires finesse. The teacher is implicitly competing with other teachers who pander to the students’ lowest tastes, including pornography. Such faculty members, as Teachout said, embody settled hostility to any cultural aspiration higher than their own eagerness to write graffiti on marble monuments of Western civilization. We can’t expect students, or at least many students, to swoon on first hearing Beethoven’s Third Symphony. What we can expect is that some students, in fact, will comprehend the magic in great art and great performance.“
ELLEN GOLDBERGER: Everyone should teach writing. Her essay is about her support for writing across the curriculum, or WAC:
Much has been written about WAC, and I add my voice to the multitudes because I recently came to a realization, watching my students texting before class began: students spend hours every day reading and practicing writing — bad writing. How many hours are spent sending and reading tweets, texts and other messages in fractured language? It made me wonder: is it even possible to swim against this unstoppable tide of bad writing? One of my colleagues argues that students cannot write well because they don’t read. I think that students do read, but what they spend their time reading is not helpful in learning how to write. (That, however, is a discussion for another day.)
I’m not sure that all students can be taught to improve their writing, but I am sure that it is one of the most important things we can attempt to teach. What difference does it make if students know their subject matter and have excellent ideas if no one can get past their sloppy and disorganized writing?
I use written papers for my music appreciation courses and voice courses because I think writing is important. Even though the assignments are brief, the syllabus clearly states that writing mechanics will be graded. While I am certainly not a writing teacher, I think students need someone coaching them on their writing as much as possible. What do you think?
FROM RICHARD SPARKS–ERIC ERICSON ON CONDUCTING: “‘caress’ the air as if through water, then make attacks (not in a pattern) gradually more marked , then back to caressing motion – check to see that your shoulder muscles stay relaxed as you beat more marcato.”
WHAT STUDENTS REALLY NEED TO HEAR: “Some of you quit by skipping class on your free education. Being punctual to fit the mold of the classroom is not the main event of showing up. The main event is delaying your temptation and investing in your own intelligence — understanding that sometimes short-term pain creates long-term gain and that great people make sacrifices for a greater good.” This commonly referred to today as “grit,” but it used to be called “delayed gratification.” Whatever it is, it is really essential.
A GREAT ARTICLE ON WHAT IT’S LIKE AUDITIONING FOR THE MET ORCHESTRA: “Everyone reacts to the news that they have won a job in the MET Orchestra differently. One member of the orchestra reportedly ran screaming through the hallways. Boris had a somewhat different response: ‘I had a glass of beer with the people I was staying with. I was on the phone with everybody. I slept for probably two or three hours, then I had a flight early in the morning for a rehearsal in Kansas City. It hadn’t sunk in yet; it came two or three weeks later.’ “
RICHARD SPARKS HAS SOME MORE GREAT THOUGHTS ON ERIC ERICSON: “What the conductor does must help vocal production.”
SCOTT DORSEY HAS AN INVITATION TO AUDITION FOR THE 2015 ACDA CONVENTION: “It’s the look on the face of every conductor as they turn to acknowledge the applause of peers at the conclusion of their appearance on the main stage of the Conference. One calls it ‘The Grin.'” I have often thought about the extra challenge of conductors as they perform for their colleagues at the ACDA conventions as opposed to the singers, who are usually not as nervous.