Frankly, I only listened to John Mays because I was painting a cabinet and had at least another coat ahead of me. The last day of access to the Greater Homeschool Convention recordings compelled me to listen as long as I held a paintbrush.
I said yesterday that today I would address the matter of discordance. And now I have. But like anybody anywhere, I can't always do what I intend on a given day.
I used to think that leaders had more control of their time than non-leaders.
What an uninformed thought.
I want everybody to attend every meeting they need to attend. Then I attended a meeting that lasted through another one and well beyond it.
When each of us were young, our mothers and/or caretakers instinctively amplified the musical qualities inherent within our native languages. Infants are surrounded by an entirely foreign, complex system of communication. They exist in a state of wonder and we draw on and interact with that state by engaging them with musically creative speech. We exaggerate the natural melody of our speech, and use rhythmic patterns, repetition, simple forms, and catchy tones of voice to increase their interest, comprehension, and connection.
“Handel is the greatest composer that ever lived . . . I would uncover my head and kneel down on his tomb.” —Beethoven quoted by Edward Schulz, "A Day with Beethoven,” The Harmonicum (1824).
All great orchestral concerts begin with a small but important musical moment. The concert master stands and the principal oboist continuously sounds A-440, until each player has tuned all the notes of their instrument to the frequency of that tone. Then the conductor takes the podium, lifts his or her arms, the concert begins, and the instruments resonate in pure clarity.
A lot can change depending on whether you focus on sight or hearing. When I teach Plato’s Republic, we spend weeks discussing whether beauty is real or not. Our students generally regard themselves as counter-cultural. They will tell you they utterly reject the moral relativism and atheism that they see in the broader society beyond their family and community. And yet they will always say, with remarkable confidence, that “beauty is completely subjective; it’s in the eye of the beholder.”
Every pianist has been told at some point that the secret to beautiful performance is staying relaxed. This does not mean working less hard. It means working only the muscles that are supposed to be working while eliminating tension everywhere else. Relaxation is an important piano technique because it makes an incredible difference in the sound the instrument produces. Much of a piano is made of wood, a living material, which responds to slight differences in touch. This is a beautiful metaphor for teaching and learning.
A great deal is made of "critical thinking" in the general background noise of our culture, especially when people talk about education and what kids aren't getting.
I got thinking about that while I was listening closely to a John Denver song on my way in to work this morning. Being a John Denver song it was filled with lofty ideals and longing and very little connection to the real world where decisions are made and have consequences.
This one was about children and the chorus goes:
For classical educators striving to “integrate the disciplines,” music provides an invaluable instrument of integration. Music studies harmonize with every core discipline of the curriculum: the music of various periods vocalizes the movements of history, the formal structures of music correspond to the formal structures of poetry, the theory of music applies principles of mathematics, the physics of music makes audible the laws of science. Music even bridges education’s theoretical and technical divide, as it can be both contemplated with the mind and practiced with the hands.
I recently made the comment that “music is heard geometry” in my conversation with Andrew Kern about the Great Dance on the “Ask Andrew” podcast. A friend asked if I could unpack that phrase and hopefully bring some understanding to that idea.