Thursday, June 4, 2020

Maybe there’s solace in the huge turnouts for protests. So many cops still acting as though the anonymity they find behind armor, shields and masks (yet again, masks playing a role), makes their militaristic, third-world, power-hungry tactics acceptable.

Correspondence/dialogue with my dear sis has been helpful over the past day. Reaching back to memories of family, of the perspectives that molded our sense of ‘differences.’ So interesting as we found those starkly contrasted models among those who’d themselves been singled out.

So curious to me that the effects of being singled out lead o different paths. Like victims of domestic abuse, i suppose, some are led to follow in their abusers’ steps; others do whatever they can to stem the tide of such models. Childhood memories of being called kike created a hatred of hate, not of people. Is that just something in one’s nature, or something that can be instilled and nurtured. And old question, that nature/nurture argument, certainly beyond me.

Protests against hatred happening world-wide. Protests in countries using the despondency that comes from failure of expectations of the U.S. For centuries we’ve failed; but perhaps the world thought us capable of more. We’ve failed continually. Perhaps now we can find additional energy towards change from others around the world, who’ll lead to value energy towards change from others within.

An exchange with my Dean and another colleague is leading to lots of thinking about how to respond in the little world i inhabit. Really glad this is so much on the table for all of us, and I have been thinking about how this might relate to first-year music theory, a course i teach, and am having problems in finding answers.  Is it just my own now-implicit bias, instilled by decades of learning and teaching tonal harmony via Bach, that leads me to continue using Bach?  Should I use music with a similar vocabulary/syntax—from more recent history—so that white/Euro-centricity of the Baroque era is not the core of our studies?  Do we do a disservice to this cause by saying that WA Mozart is the core of the literature that students need to know—or is that just an excuse to keep teaching the same material year after year?  Is it our charge now to finally supplant Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Schumann, Debussy, et al., in order to bring exposure to long-neglected names?  

If we start to use music of non-Eurocentric traditions, are we venturing into cultural appropriation, especially when we’ve so little context (as non-Ethnomusicologists/Anthropologists)?  If we use music from our own culture—jazz, say—then do those who don’t know the history/tradition of jazz, its roots and practices, again just play lip service to a rich practice?

I’m not a researching theorist, musicologist, ethnomusicologist; not even a licensed ‘educator’.  Just a composer with enough stamina to earn a doctorate, and now I’m supposed to teach the historical foundation of centuries of musical practice without referencing that foundation?  And my colleagues who teach instruments via applied lessons—how are they to find appropriate literature to teach basic skills without using the literature you learned on, and what you’ve learned to effectively use in your teaching for so long?

Way more questions than answers.  I know that this is going to be hard for all of us, but I also know it’s so much easier to preach from a soapbox than to bring the sermon home to the kitchen, so to speak.

The search continue to bring more growth.

Another article to get us thinking about teaching in the fall… in the pandemic world.