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The Band Industry is Killing Music Education

My colleague told me this story about a recent happening in the "band" world that you may not have heard about:
 
Here is the outline of the story:
 
1.  On January 30, 2005, a parent wrote an article in the Washington Post that bemoaned instrumental music education in general and substandard literature in particular.  He also wrote a "follow on" article entitled "The Repertoire is the Curriculum:  Getting Back to Basics in Music Education" that elaborated on the original issue.
 
2.  All of it caused quite a furor. (He "received more than 100 messages and phone calls from band directors, students, ex-students, elementary school teachers, church musicians . . ") His mail ran about 7 to 1 in favor of what he had said.
 
3.  The parent was asked to write an article for the Journal of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles and he did (with Col. Timothy Foley, retired director of the U.S. Marine Band).
 
4.  He was about to publish another article, but the article was pulled at the last minute by a new president of the association.
 
It is a fascinating story.  Click on the links and read about it.  Read more here on a page he calls "The Wonderful People who Killed School Music."
 
 
 
on February 4, 2010 2:53am
The emperor is wearing no clothes.
on February 4, 2010 1:02pm
Gotta agree with you Dan. I was at GMEA last weekend and went to a reading session where I read (what I believe) was the WORST piece of literature I have ever heard. Something about crickets, and how they had girlfriends and....just awful! The worst part -- the conductor pitched it as "perfect for her middle school choirs"....drove me nuts. Also, in that same sitting I heard a new cliche in choral music that is stemming from the eric whitacre collection: the use of abnormally long suspensions in the soprano when there is ANY text in latin. It sounded like a fake whitacre; it felt like a fake whitacre, it IS a bad attempt of copying his style. 
on February 4, 2010 1:08pm
Note that his original article is not band-specific, but puts choral music educators squarely in the crosshairs.  I tend to agree with him, having a 17- and a 12-year old and having had to sit through similar things.  In the not-too-distant-past I had the definitely unpleasant experience of conducting a choral festival for which someone else had chosen the music.  It was filled with exactly the kind of shlocky "esteem-building" stuff that the author refers to.  Very bad day for me.  I kept thinking about all the easily accessible quality literature that could have been done instead which would have allowed for cultural lessons, history lessons, vocal training, etc.
on February 4, 2010 3:43pm
For more discussion of this same idea, I recommend two articles by Randal Swiggum called "From the Heart" (parts 1 and 2).  These two articles are required reading and socratic seminar at the beginning of each of my HS choirs for the year.  You can read them and some other great work on this thought in "The Great Choral Treasure Hunt."  Check out the information at Comprehensive Musicianship Through Performance.