A NEW WEBSITE TO HELP EAR TRAINING: Toned Ear Trains Your Ear for Better Musical Ability. I like the look and appreciate how Toned Ear works, but I’m not sure it can teach students to match pitch. I would love to find a program that really worked at that.
ACADEMIC FREEDOM UPDATE: Northwestern Professor Resigns Over Censorship Concerns. “The plain and simple fact is that Dean Neilson acted impulsively and wrongly in this situation. We all make mistakes, but this was a profound mistake that cut to the very heart of academic freedom. It should have been acknowledged and corrected immediately. That is most definitely not what happened. Instead, what happened was denial, avoidance, blame-shifting, and evasion. To this day, the university has not admitted its mistake, and it has not affirmed its commitment to academic freedom in a way that makes clear that similar incidents will not occur in the future. This failure should be embarrassing to an otherwise great university.” More here.
THE CHRONICLE: Does Assessment Make Colleges Better? Who Knows? “Has anyone looked into whether assessing student-learning outcomes over many years has made American colleges, or students, better in some way? Has anyone tried to compare institutions with different approaches to assessment? I am a historian so I am not familiar with the education research, but as best I can tell from a literature search and from asking people in the field the answer is ‘no.'” Sometimes I feel like I am trying to help jump through hoops instead of actually improve the quality of education. A good article to provoke discussion.
READING THIS ARTICLE BY JOHN PODHORETZ about the new Broadway musicals also makes me think of the challenges of the contemporary music world:
Is there a recording artist at present whose new album might elicit the sort of tingling expectancy that a new Paul Simon or Talking Heads record would have in its day? For those with more highbrow tastes, is there a classical artist whose participation in a new recording of Wagner’s Ring cycle, or a new interpretation of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, might be the talk of the town?
I remember when, in the early 1980s, Americans for whom the visual arts were profoundly important could talk of little else than the German monumentalist painter Anselm Kiefer—and this at a time when it was simply taken for granted that a cultured person was familiar with the works of the Abstract Expressionists and the post-modernists that followed them. To put it most plainly: How many living painters are household names the way Jackson Pollock was? The answer, of course, is that there isn’t a one.
That’s a pretty accurate take. Podhoretz doesn’t blame the audiences, but the artists:
But there is something deeply depressing in the fact that, increasingly, the arts seem to be losing their power to capture our attention. And that is because they no longer hold out the hope that, by providing us an intellectual and emotional guide map, they can help sate our aesthetic hunger—the hunger we all have to understand our own experiences and lives by seeing things anew through the eyes of others.
GOOD NEWS: Stolen Stradivarius Violin Returns After 35 Years. “… Roman Totenberg stashed his violin — known as the Ames Stradivarius — in his office after a concert in 1980 while he chatted with fans and other folks. When he got back, it’d vanished. He’d purchased the rare violin in 1943 for $15,000 (about $200,000 today) and it was the only instrument he ever performed with — that is, until it was stolen. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 101, never to see his Stradivarius again.” Looks like nobody will be charged, but it’s good there’s another Strad around.