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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000733.txt from 2004/10

From: Adam Michlin <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Appealing to the superficial
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004 09:19:17 -0400

At 12:58 PM 10/25/2004 +0200, Joseph Wakeling wrote:
>>It seems to boil down to Milton Babbitt's famous question "Who cares if
>>[they] listen?".
>Babbitt never wrote that; an editor put it as the title of Babbitt's
>article without consulting him (and, apparently, much to Babbitt's distress).

Babbitt or editor, I think it quite accurately depicts the elitism of many
modern classical music composers and performers.

So I stand corrected and will restate:

It seems to boil down to Milton Babbitt's editor's famous question "Who
cares if [they] listen?".

And I still care.

>Why? It is not your job to determine how other people live their lives.

Why do I care? Well, because my job as a teacher is to create educated
musicians. Part of being an educated musician is being aware of as many
composers and genres of music as possible. I'm curious as to how one
achieves this without listening.

Colleges recognize this, how many students get music degrees without music
history? Without listening to a *lot* of music? How dare these colleges
determine how other people live their lives!

>What matters to me is that *I* get to listen. Of course, it's nice if
>there are lots of other people in the audience because that usually
>creates a better atmosphere, and the more listeners there are the greater
>the opportunity to hear the music. But some of my most profound musical
>experiences have been when I was one of a handful of people in the
>audience. Come to that, some of my most profound musical experiences have
>been when I was the *sole* listener, perhaps to a friend playing, perhaps
>without anyone playing but just listening to the sounds around me.

Sure, and if you aren't a music teacher then great. Or do you suggest that
a music teacher should only care that they themselves get to listen?

>In my experience, people don't respond well to someone who *wants* them to
>listen to some particular music. The best responses seem to come either
>when the person presenting the music is a trusted friend, or when that
>person puts themselves and their opinions completely out of the picture
>and simply lets the other person listen on their own terms.

The teacher student relationship is very different from the friendship
relationships you are talking about.

I have never suggested forcing a student to like Mozart (or anything else).
I don't think it is possible to do so. I have suggested playing Mozart for
them, to use your own words, so they can listen on their own terms.


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