“I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.” - Plato
This article by Theodore Buchholz, Assistant Professor of Cello at the University of Arizona, was originally published in the fall of 2014, but continues to be shared as an important message to parents who may be enrolling their children into schools and courses in the coming months. It has been formatted onto the SHAR Blog with permission from Theodore Buchholz.
There's been a lot of press recently about bullying and hazing: a Rutgers student hid a camera in his dorm room to record his roommate being intimate; the hazing practices of the Florida A&M marching band led to the death of drum major; and Mitt Romney's days at Cranbrook High School received close scrutiny in the wake of allegations that he cut off the long, bleached hair of a classmate.
It seems appropriate, then, to share a video from the bass and violin trio Time for Three (it's tough to categorize their sound since they meld classical, country, jazz, and even Roma music). The trio has been wildly successful ever since their breathrough performance at the Philadelphia Mann Center: the stage lights failed and two members of Time for Three had an impromtu jam session of folk, pop, gospel, and ragtime tunes. The audience loved it.
The trio, though, is now using their popularity for a good cause. Time for Three's new video "Stronger" tells the story of a young violinist who's persisently bullied by a classmate. The classmate does all the usual stuff, though he also breaks the young violinist's instrument by trying to hit a baseball with it (!). As the narrative progresses, however, we watch the violinist persevere in his playing and eventually receive recognition at a talent show.
The video, of course, is a tiny bit sentimental in parts, but it also contains a complicated and important message. The video reminds us that music is not just about music, performances, and success; it's about being heard by others. While the bully has his say early on through his strong-arm tactics of pushing and harrassing the violinist, the violinist ends up being the "stronger" and more articulate of the two by the end of the video. He is the one being heard and being recogized.
And isn't that what bullying attempts to silence – a young person's voice? Victims of bullying are often ridiculed for their identity, whether that identity centers on their sexuality, race, style of dress, religion, class, or any of the hundred other elements that form us. Music and art can rehabilitate and affirm a child's identity, their unique voice, and are perhaps some of the more powerful responses to bullying. The pain of being silenced becomes a reason to speak.
Music and arts education programs matter because they engage the bizarre and beautiful creativity of Generation Y.
So, I've been thinking about education recently. Entries on the joys and trials of being a Suzuki Mom have flooded my inbox (send more!), and my colleague Alberta, a fine violinist and writer here at SHAR, just posted an entry last week on the sacrifices and payoffs of studying and playing the violin.
The entries on this blog, however, aren't reflective of the dominant opinion on most school boards. No surprise there. Arts education can't really compete with the sciences, and I'm not sure if they've ever been able to compete. Certainly these days most of the rhetoric from President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan has centered on the sciences. When Obama and Duncan talk about our test scores dropping behind Scandanavian countries or China, it's usually in the sciences. Administrators value reading, but not reading as a way to make art: more so, they care about reading skills because the savvy use of language is necessary to get ahead.
Today's post comes from high school musician and SHAR customer Emily Lamb. As young musicians, it can be tough to approach auditions with confidence and poise. Emily provides our readers with five no-nonsense tips on how to nail an audition. If you'd like to contribute to our blog -- as a Suzuki parent, high school musician, or on anything strings -- email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Audition. That word strikes fear into every single high school musician. Or so it seems. Being a high school musician myself, I can definitely relate. Sweaty palms, knocking knees, head spinning; I’ve experienced the whole shebang. You don’t want to mess up, or make a fool of yourself, or accomplish all of the above. All you want to do is be able to relax and do your best. Right?
So. How is that possible? Is it even possible to survive an audition without feeling like you were run over by a train?