Start Your Day with a D.A.!

Imagine that you were not allowed to speak unless you were quoting Socrates, Cicero, Aristotle, Winston Churchill, Lincoln, etc., not even “Please pass the salt” unless you were quoting. Imagine that you were an English major but were not allowed to write any of your own thoughts, no essays, not even an email; you could only copy down quotes from Twain, Dickens, Faulkner, Joyce, Cervantes, Goethe, etc . Imagine that you went to art school but were never trained or encouraged to do anything but reproduce famous paintings, never, never paint or sculpt anything that you thought up, ever. Just copy Picasso, Renoir, Degas, Ingres, Leonardo. Imagine if you went to music school and never played anything but the notes of some distant (and likely deceased) composer, never received encouragement or training to make your own music…

Oh, wait. That is, in fact, how it is in music school. No creating. Just recreating. Nothing wrong with re-creating – unless it’s the only show in town. Any garage band worth its salt composes its own songs. Why is it that your averate terminal-degreed music student can’t write a convincing piece for their own instrument? Isn’t something missing?

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Venezuela’s Music Ed System: El Sistema

Flag of venezuela

Mark Swed wrote an intriguing article in the L.A. Times recently entitled “What the US could learn from the Venezuela’s music education system.” The state-run music ed program (called El Sistema) is known as “the most extensive, admired, and increasingly imitated in the world. … Foreign visitors who stream into Caracas to observe El Sistema in action invariably leave Venezuela amazed.”

Where many in this country see classical music as moribund, El Sistema is universally supported, admired, and enjoyed. No political party there would even think of opposing music education. For an equivalent in this country, Swed says, “Imagine President Obama demanding a $1.2 billion music education system under the rubric of social welfare, only to be challenged by Ron Paul insisting that Congress allocate an even great sum for socialized music.” (Swed visited Venezuela on the same day the the Los Angeles Board of Education met to consider a proposal that would eliminate arts from the elementary curriculum).

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Improv Quote of the Day: Where is the creativity?

oil painting Improvisation

In teaching music students to be creative, most schools are derelict. … Music education, so strongly rooted in performance traditions, has resulted in the virtual absence of creative problem solving processes in its teaching and learning practices.

– Lee Willingham, “Creativity and the Problem with Music” in Creativity and Music Education

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Improv Quote of the Day: Music Ed – Creativity Denied?

English: The old schoolhouse

Perhaps the cause [of disinterest in school music] is simply that… many students find that “music education” is irrelevant. In this uniquely expressive art form, the student is denied the experience of creation and is limited to a functional role in the re-creation of, at best, historical monuments. He seldom has the opportunity to use music for his own expressive needs, while he is expected to appreciate the expressive works of others. He is refused the role of evaluator or critic because educational attitudes, geared to traditional and fixed positions, do not allow for student judgments. He is usually denied experience in a living art because this too often violates limited concepts of historical doctrines and idiomatic systems upon which educational methods are based. The student may deem the subject matter to be irrelevant, because it appears “completed” and foreign to the realities of life and society as he knows them to be.

–Ronald B. Thomas, MMCP [Manhattan Music Curriculum Project] Synthesis [1979]

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Improv Quote of the Day: Improv and Music Curricula

English: Brisbane Concert Band, 1911.

There is no doubt that improv has improved my music program. … Because improvisation is taught, students have more fun and are more motivated. They are more sensitive and creative. They are better musicians. Improvisation should be a part of any well-rounded music curriculum.

– Randy Porter, “A Case for Improvisation to be an Integral Part of Music Education”

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Improv Quote of the Day: The Core of the Curriculum

Deutsch: Handzeichen nach Curwen. Beschreibung...

Improvisation should be at the core of the music curriculum.
 It should come first 
and should remain at the core of music education
 throughout the later years of increasing expertise. 
Musicians educated with improvisation at the center 
will have a better-developed ability to think musically
—to deeply understand music 
as well as be better prepared to interpret written scores.

–R. Keith Sawyer

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Improv Quotes of the Day: Music, the Brain, and Education

Left and Right Brain

Quote excerpts from articles on the web site of the Dana Foundation (“Your gateway to information about the brain and brain research”) – found after doing a search for “music”:

Music has always been integral to education. Our ancestors knew this intuitively. Yet in our own time, music and education have parted ways in many school systems. As music came to be regarded as art – as opposed to a natural and instinctive human activity – it has been treated as a luxury rather than a necessity. My own bias makes me sure that is loss to general education is one important reason for the poor state of learning about which we complain year after year. This book is the story of how one school district and a woodwind quintet brought music back to school in a new and modern way, and, by doing so, may have helped turn mediocre learning performance into high achievement.

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