Sunday, January 27, 2013

Week 3

One of the more intriguing pieces of information I ran across while doing the readings this week was the fact that in the 1950s, approximately 50% of students were involved in music, while that number today hovers more around 10%.  50%! I can't get over that number, in fact, it is really difficult to imagine any school where 50% of the students were involved in music.  It really makes one think about the changing priorities of the society as a whole.  The trend of focusing more and more on the improvement of standardized test scores does not stimulate the minds of the students and it certainly does not make the students excited to come to school every day.  Shouldn't our responsibility as educators be creating lifelong learners instead of proficient test takers?  I want my students to be curious and interested in all subjects, and to do that, it is important not to make the gaining of knowledge such a tedious task.

 I also found Nehamas's piece, An Essay on Beauty and Judgement, thought provoking as well; especially the aspect of aesthetics being based on the time period that they inhabit.  What can be considered "beautiful" must rely on the history of beauty as well as the cultural and societal cues of the time period.  Mozart may not find the work of Arnold Schoenberg to be beautiful, but that may be simply because he has not been exposed to the works that lead music to that point.  It is, at times, difficult to see the beauty of works that push the boundaries of aesthetics, but it is important to keep this concept in the mind, as it adds a bit of essential humility to life.  The idea of beauty is something that is ever-changing and always elusive.  

To me, the use of functional MRI scans have been such an amazing tool for not only the scientific community, but for all of humankind.  The ability to map brain activity in real time is simply incredible, and being able to see such awe inspiring technology used in congruence with music is fascinating.  Being able to see the physical  and psychological benefits that music provides is really rewarding and also a little depressing when we look back at the initial statistic I used.  10%... Surely, such a beneficial aspect of humanity should be getting more attention in our greater educational community.  


  1. I agree with you about that statistic. But remember that far more students are involved in daily listening to music produced with high fidelity. Popular music has never been stronger. Still . . . missing out on what a formal education can offer is sad.

  2. The 50% compared to the 10% was definitely the thing that stuck in my mind from last week too.

  3. I agree that 10% is such a small number and I am somewhat sad that we are not having more students involved in music. On the other hand, because it is such a small number that makes our area of work that much more special.

    Rarity makes something more valuable. Gold is essentially a pretty rock; but because it is RARE it is valuable. When an animal becomes endangered, it becomes more valuable and gets more attention. I believe (and hope) that the same concept applies for music.