Chris Squire, who laid down the bass line for much of the soundtrack of my adolescence, died yesterday of leukemia. He was 67.
Chris and Jon Anderson founded Yes in 1968. The band has gone through many permutations in personnel and evolution in style since then, but Chris has always been at the heart of the group. His unique sound, approach to playing bass, and contribution to crafting the group’s compositions have been an integral part of what makes Yes Yes. When Billy Sherwood joins the band on stage as bassist at the beginning of their North American Summer Tour in August, it will be the first time that Yes has ever performed without Chris since the band was formed 47 years ago.
I’m pleased to be able to share with you the music education advocacy video that was produced by our Communications team and Mogulboys this Spring – it is now publicly available on Youtube (see below). The video has already been viewed by thousands of symphony patrons since the beginning of May, including screenings at the annual Fashion Show on May 5 and before our many movie concerts in the hall during the month of June.
Nashville Symphony: Your Community. Your Orchestra features the symphony’s conductors and musicians both describing our organization’s commitment to music education as well as sharing personal anecdotes about the importance of music education in the life of the community.
This article is a companion to my previous post Wholehearted Attention.
It’s generally accepted that one of the goals of education – beyond the attainment of specific content objectives – is to instill in the child a love for learning. It has been my experience however, that a love for learning is part of a child’s natural state and does not need to be instilled. Children who exhibit behavior to the contrary have most often faced social and/or emotional difficulties that impede their inherent wish to learn and grow; some of a teacher’s work involves trying to determine what these obstacles are and finding ways around them. Beyond providing the child an acquaintance with and proficiency in the broad array of subjects necessary for success in life, the overarching goal of education might be better described as enabling the child to become her own teacher.
Music teachers in school settings often feel a sense of isolation from the activities happening in other classrooms, and a lack of understanding on the part of other teachers and administrators about what it is, exactly, that music teachers teach. There are striking differences in the way teaching and learning happens in the music classroom when compared to the activities happening in other classes. In the current standards-obsessed education climate, appropriate musical activity in the classroom faces real obstacles in being appreciated, understood, and ultimately funded, because it resists being reduced to a checklist of objectives.
Which is not to say that there are not discrete objectives for a music teacher to impart to his or her students – quite the opposite, in fact. Music-making is such a complex activity that the act of separating all the components that go into it into easily assessed bytes of information ultimately leaves out essential aspects of what it is really about, presenting an incomplete picture at best, and at worst, a distorted view of the purpose and value of musical activity.
When I was an elementary and middle school music teacher (1991 – 2007), I structured a lot of my curriculum – especially the songs I chose to teach my students – around the seasons. While it may seem like an obvious educational strategy, I think it is important to stress the value of this. Children in our society are living in environments that are increasingly divorced from any sense of connection with the natural world. Part of a music teacher’s mission is to give children not only a developed set of skills but also a generous survey (content) of our musical tradition, and the music literature – especially the song repertoire – includes a wide variety of examples of the use of music to evoke, celebrate, and otherwise honor many aspects of the natural world from which we come – and which we are still a part of, whether we recognize it or not.