Consider the following passages from the Agamemnon, which might be read in a classroom.
Chiaroscuro is a term from art that means “light-dark”—a technique of using strong tonal contrasts to represent forms in painting. Think about Rembrandt’s works and his use of distinctive areas of darkness and radiant light. The light appears all the brighter because of its juxtaposition with darkness.
While reading Jean Lee Latham’s 1955 classic, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, my students became entranced. They fell in love with math, Latin, and the sea as they traveled with Nathaniel Bowditch on his adventures. I don’t blame them – I fell in love with the story, too.
Yesterday, the Church celebrated Palm Sunday, the commemoration of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, and the beginning of Holy Week – the final days of Christ on earth before His crucifixion. The event is recorded in all four Gospels – Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:29-38, and John 12:12-15 – and the event shares connections and echoes with several other passages as well.
Here is the Triumphal Entry as recorded in Matthew’s Gospel:
Once upon a time, when I was a little girl taking piano lessons, I noticed it was “cool” for the older students, after delivering an impressive performance of a Beethoven sonata or Rachmaninoff concerto, to rise with an air of lazy nonchalance, saunter back to their seats, and casually mutter, “Only got to practice two hours this whole week.”
You know that thing when you can’t get a song out of your head? A friend sent me this lyric from a band called Dumpster Divers and though I still have not listened to the song, the words themselves echo as I mull them over.
Come now and join the feast,
Right here in the belly of the beast
I too was a bad student. I was not the sort of bad student that would have gotten along with Josh Gibbs in high school, though. I was the sort of student who would have inwardly groaned if we had been placed together in a group for a project. I would have been shocked and disdained by his lack of concern over his schoolwork. I would have been so concerned with our grade that I would have done all of the work to prevent his slacking from affecting me.
In a previous post on the foundations of music appreciation, I began to consider the idea that music goes beyond our sense of preference and actually is indicative of the created order. This implies several significant points that should be listed and/or repeated:
“Friendship is a necessity.”
So opens Book VIII of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Friendship, he says, “is a kind of virtue, or implies virtue, and it is also most necessary for living. Nobody would choose to live without friends even if he had all the other good things.”
Over the many years of my education, I have found that the most exciting, interesting, and helpful things that I have learned is simply what words mean. We intuit the meaning of many words through context and common usage and avid readers will have a whole storehouse of words in their imagination from a young age whose meaning they can sort of explain based on the context of the book or sentence it came from, but when asked to actually explain the word they will be hard pressed to give a solid, satisfactory definition.