Viewing 4 posts - 16 through 19 (of 19 total)
- April 12, 2010 at 9:16 pm #254421
John HowellParticipantPamela et al.Just a couple of thoughts, not particularly connected, in this most interesting thread.Playing Devil’s Advocate (an ancient and important office in the Church, you know!), I’ve seen a whole lot of conductors’ outlooks and not a single student’s outlook. The tacit assumption seems to be that we’re the boss, and that every choice we make IS good music and it’s the kids’ fault if they don’t like it. Right? That’s what I thought! And I’ll certainly agree that we always THINK our choices are good ones, or else we wouldn’t make them. But are they? And do we? And good ones from whose point of view? Everyone’s except the students we ask to sing them? Just something to think about, perhaps. Isn’t a fundamental principle of educational psychology to work from the known to the unknown? Any suggestion that “you need to learn this BECA– USE IT’S GOOD FOR YOU” (whether it’s Shakespeare or Latin or Bach) will ALWAYS generate resistance!And the other thought. Assuming (as everyone else has) that we DO make excellent choices for excellent and objective pedagogical reasons, nobody so far has suggested one possible approach that seems pretty obvious. I teach college music majors, who are learning and studying and playing or singing quality literature. But they listen to and are up to date on the same kinds of pop music as all the other kids their age, NOT the 100 Greatest Hits of All Time! And why should we expect anything different? After all, popular culture is called that because it’s, well, POPULAR! So why not point out that the half-life of the typical pop song, quick and easy as it is to hear, learn, and love, is measurable in months, not years, and that the music we’re introducing them to has, in contrast, a half-life that’s ALREADY lasted decades, if not actually centuries? And challenge them to figure out the difference?I completely agree that once something is learned, it becomes “I like it” rather than “I hate it,” at least a lot of the time. But I’m thinking in terms of rather broader ways of judging quality, and those are the ways that suggest to us that Brahms might just be longer lasting than, say, Michael Jackson! (Although I find the longevity of the Beatles songs remarkabe by ANY standards!!)All the best,JohnApril 12, 2010 at 10:49 pm #254426
Ronald IsaacsonParticipantDear All:This thread really kind of falls under the adage, “Too soon old, too late smart.” Of course we directors and conductors have our own preferences, and we choose the music for our groups to sing precisely because it fits our definitions of what we believe the group can and should be singing.If we did not, we would happily and unstressfully sit (in my case, in the back row of the bass section) in someone else’s group.I select music — whether for school groups or my congregational choir — based on what I surmise their capabilities to be and in which direction I want their musicianship to grow. At all points, this is based upon sound objectives and musically-educational reasoning.When anyone disagrees with my programming, whether singers, audience, parents or administrators, I present my reasoning, and am open their opinions, but I remind them that as the director/conductor, the final decision on musical choices lies with me.I also give singers and students the chance to come up with their own suggestions (as discussed a few yrs. ago). In a few cases, they found some nice stuff that I had never heard of; in all cases, these people learned just how difficult the process for selecting music can be, and they have deferred to me.I recently worked as a long-term substitute for the choir director at a hearby middle school, and ran into everyone’s favorite school choir buzz saws: “This music is boring”, “I hate Ms.X’s choices”; “why can’t we sing our music?” So we took out a couple of choral arrangements of popular tunes from the school music library, including one based on a very popular and very well-known Michael Jackson tune.We sang them all through and rehearsed them over a few days, but I finally pulled MJ from the folders: we were arguing about the legitimacy of the arrangement — rhythms, voicings, lyrics — as opposed to what the students thought they remembered from recordings that they had; I had them bring in their recordings and pointed out that the arrangements were correct and in line with the performance as MJ authorized it…; etc., etc. some opinions were in agreement with me, but we were wasting valuable time talking… At this point, I just said no… it wasn’t worth it.April 14, 2010 at 12:44 pm #254529
Jeff CollierParticipantWhat a wonderful thread! I have two points to add:In addition to all of the points that have been raised about developing trust with your singers and having a well thought out plan for choosing quality literature, I have done two things to “immunize” my choirs from the, “I hate this piece,” knee jerk reaction. The first is to let them know that every piece of music that we sing will be at least one persons favorite and there one person’s least favorite. Music that expresses real emotions affects real people and they react in similar and different ways.I will also challenge the members of the choir, even before we read through the piece, to try and find what is in this peice of music that has made other people love it. What is it about William Byrd’s “Ave Verum Corpus” that still has singers raving about the experience of learning and singing it? Sometimes, all that I have to do is to have a friendly twinkle in my eye and in a conspiratorial tone say, “Oh! You haven’t discovered yet what is in this song that is wonderful!” What fun!Have a fabulous day!Jeff CollierMinico High SchoolRupert, IDApril 21, 2010 at 10:03 am #254978
Gail MrozakParticipantHere’s a response from a non-teacher who’s raised a few teens, and did not initially like every piece of music I had to learn.With students, “I don’t like it” can also mean “This looks like hard work and I don’t want to work that hard.”Music, like food, can sometimes take repeated exposure before people like it. And students need to learn material whether they think they will like it or not–can you imagine what the geometry teacher says if students complain that they don’t like a chapter in the book?Whether the students are saying this to you privately or if they are doing it loudly and disruptively in front of the group will affect your response.I agree with those who’ve already suggested saying “Give this music a chance to grow on you.”Gail MrozakBoard Member and sopranoElmhurst Choral Union
Viewing 4 posts - 16 through 19 (of 19 total)
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