Advertising and Web Hosting on Woodwind.Org!

Klarinet Archive - Posting 000021.txt from 2002/06

From: "Forest E. Aten Jr." <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Teaching the 'students' of today
Date: Sat, 1 Jun 2002 11:35:32 -0400


'Good' music educators teach children how to be "fine young musicians". Most
use/have a plan or in the case of public school education use a curriculum
as a guide. If they are public school teachers they should use the mandated
curriculum and modify it to their teaching style and/or teaching situation.
Not to say that the "mandated curriculum" is always the need to

One of the big problems (note: I see it as a problem) for the school music
programs in the suburbs surrounding Dallas, is that students, parents and
administrators want public school music education to be entertaining.....and
this to the exclusion of teaching music. I observe this especially in two
areas: 1. the unbelievable excess during the marching band season (half the
school year at 25/30 hours of rehearsal each week out of the school
hours)(can you say...stupid?); 2. the obsession with winning the blue ribbon
at all costs (learning a whopping total of 3 contest works in an entire
year; "the three piece band")
Don't get me wrong....I think that there is some value in the visibility
that comes with marching band and also with the "validating" of the music
program with competitive efforts. My point is that marching band and winning
contests should not be used as the primary objectives when meeting the goals
for a quality music education program. Many tools, to be sure, can be used
to meet the objectives established by a good music program though a formal
curriculum....or at least objectives known to be of value in producing a
"fine young musician".

As a parent, I don't expect my child to become the next math wiz...but I do
expect the math department in the public school to do a good job of offering
my child a good education in math. Same goes for the English department, the
science department...etc. Why would parents expect that the music education
offered up by the public school be solely dedicated to entertaining their
child.....and community? The vast majority of kids involved in public school
band, orchestra and choral programs never aspire to be professionals, yet
the parents of these kids should expect a top quality music education....not
just be entertained by their children at football games, concerts, contests
and the Christmas parade. (learning to dodge horse poop can be a challenge
whilst playing ones' instrument)

It sounds like your kids were the victims of poor music education. The
system fails many. (and of course, sometimes the kids fail the system) The
attrition rate in the public school music programs in Texas is very, very
high. Some of this the result of poor teaching and some of this a normal
part of the process. Many kids (and their parents) enter into band thinking
that they are going to be entertained (fun, fun, fun). When they find out
that it involves work....(formal curriculums having specific
objectives...and with an evaluation process, usually is an indication that
work is involved) many of the kids needing to be entertained........quit. As
it should be. These kids can/will hopefully buy tickets :-)

Forest Aten

I know that outside of America that the excess and extremes associated with
the "Friday Night Lights" of American high school football is very difficult
to understand. American football has profoundly effected our public school
educational system....and for the most part not in a good way. Public school
music education has been profoundly effected by whatever direction football
takes. It's a good idea to have a little history under your belt if you have
any interest in public school music education in the U.S.
If you want to take a good look at the extreme and abusive nature of this
uniquely American past-time go to your local library or book seller and
check out:
a.. Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream -- H. G. Bissinger,
Rob, Jr. Clark (Photographer); Paperback

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
Subject: Re: [kl] Teaching the 'students' of today

> At 01:13 PM 6/1/2002 +0100, you wrote:
> >Teaching may not suit some people, anyway. I stopped having lessons as
> >soon as possible, myself; and a few years ago my youngest son asked for
> >a guitar for his birthday -- on the condition that he didn't have to
> >have a teacher. (He'd been there, you see.)
> There's also the variable--a lousy teacher and the effect said lousy
> teacher can have on the enthusiasm of a student. I've been over this
> ground before, I think: the in-school "group lessons" given to both my
> children, same as they were given to me years before. At best the kid is
> left to develop his or her own path; at worst, any interest is
> squashed. My older son wanted to learn the saxophone. The teacher
> insisted he go the "standard route" and learn the clarinet
> first. Why? "Because we've always done it that way." He ended up not
> learning either instrument and quit after one year. My ex and I consented
> when he told us he wanted to stop playing. We also watched the
> teacher--the same teacher--very carefully when he got hold of our younger
> son three years later. This kid could play hell out of a trumpet but grew
> frustrated and then lazy because he kept getting "tutelage" that he
> instinctively knew was misfocused and inaccurate (details on request). By
> the time he got to high school he made a switch to baritone horn. By the
> time he got out of high school he was playing guitar--self-taught. I have
> his trumpet here, just in case he ever wants to pick it up again. Musical
> instruments have a funny way of coming back to haunt you--but they do it
> when they're ready and you're ready for them, with or without a teacher
> often gets in the way.
> >What's the *real* meaning, for example, of the more famous injunction
> >'not to cast pearls before swine'?
> >
> >I'd say the point is that if you do, it's *you* that's stupid, not the
> >swine. And they have a right to be annoyed, because they're interested
> >in things that are much more important, for them -- and arguably, much
> >more important anyway.
> Maybe the question is "Why do you want to learn to play?" It felt to me
> though the teachers in the public schools were in the business of
> perpetuating professional players or teaching them
> professional-style. Yes, I probably am wrong here, and if so, then
> so. Adult learners are probably much easier to teach and have a lot more
> fun just hacking around, free of the idea that they're going to be Wynton
> Marsalis or our Mr. Pay, for that matter (and you seemed to have turned
> okay anyway, Tony:-). At a time several years ago when I thought about
> lessons, and before I realized I could not afford them, of the teachers I
> called only one challenged me and said "What do you want from them?" When
> I told him clearly what I wanted--to get rid of my bad habits and to learn
> how to tongue properly--he said he could teach me that stuff on a
> once-a-month basis, trust me to practice, and he--infamous for reducing
> undergraduate conservatory students to tears--would be happy to work with
> an adult who didn't have grandiose ideas of what he wanted from himself or
> the instrument.
> Ken
> Kenneth Wolman
> "Do you think grief is anything like depression? Go with grief. It's
> In grief you're at least feeling a rich, deep feeling. In depression you
> don't even have that, it's just that awful feeling of nullity."--Dick
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------


     Copyright © Woodwind.Org, Inc. All Rights Reserved    Privacy Policy    Contact