classical music education

By reblogging this post, you are signing a petition to make “Flesh-Winds” the new official term for vocalists.

Example 1: The composer’s greatest work combined the use of Woodwinds, Brass-winds, and Fleshwinds in the final movement.

Example 2: The fleshwind ensemble performed works by P. D. Q. Bach and Derick Blackacre.

teaching minority youth & combatting racism in classical music

So I’ve just been hired as a teaching assistant with a project at Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra called the ICP. Basically BYSO realized in 1998 that most of the kids that come into their programs are from richer communities outside (or in wealthy areas of) Boston & certain communities that are more underprivileged weren’t being represented. 19 years ago they created the project I have begun working for as a response to that, bringing in kids from the inner city, all minority kids. They teach those kids how to play string instruments (violin, viola, cello & bass) and work with them from the age of 4/5 all through high school, all that time supporting them with scholarship money. The result is that 100% of the children are trained enough to play with the best youth symphonies in Boston, come to graduate high school, go to a four-year college, and most importantly, stay out of trouble. It’s a pretty cool project.

Recently, the head of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) lost his position for his racist remarks; last spring (of 2016), he stated at a conference that he “could not diversify his board” due to the fact that “blacks and Latinos lack the keyboard skills and music theory abilities to become musicians or music educators”.
Obviously, after this, he received extensive criticism from American musicians and educators alike for his blatant racism and was forced to forfeit his position. It was a shameful moment for music education in the US.

How does this tie into what I’m trying to say?

An alarming statistic is that very few blacks and latinos are represented in classical music. Orchestras are overwhelmed with white and Asian musicians, however, it is rare to see many POC on stage playing a Beethoven symphony. Why is that?

My best guess, though I could never really say, is simply that the study of classical music is costly for the long-term. Parents have to pay for private lessons, the cost of an instrument, and even might have to pay a fee for participation in some ensembles. Not that I am trying to imply that there are not POC who are perfectly well-off or even wealthy–there certainly are–however in cities like Boston, or where I’m from, Pittsburgh, many of the communities with POC aren’t well-off and send kids to low-budget city schools with little-to-no music education, (with exceptions like Pittsburgh’s Creative and Performing Arts 👏🏻 yay) and therefore minority communities must turn to programs like Boston’s ICP or Pittsburgh’s Hope Academy to get involved in classical music at all.

This past Sunday I worked with 4-5 year olds for multiple hours followed by an hour with 11-14 year olds. The children, all black and hispanic, were extremely excited to be making music and showed a lot of promise.

I began playing the cello at the age of 5, and I currently am studying cello at one of the best schools of music in the country, with one of the best cello professors in the country. I have an annual scholarship of almost $54K.
It is outrageous to even humor the idea that any of these 4 and 5 year old children, simply because of the color of their skin, could not have the same future as me–could not be studying the cello at their top choice school 14 years from now. I am white, but I wasn’t born into a family with a lot of money. They paid for music lessons, I received scholarships for youth symphony, and I worked hard to get the scholarship that I have for college.

I’m not yet sure that I see myself as a future educator, but I do know one thing: when I was 5 years old, I was just as excited as the five kiddos I’m working with to be playing the cello. And they deserve every opportunity that I had and more. And in many ways, I want to fight for the kids who need someone to fight for them.

The times have changed. Classical music has changed. Therefore, educators need to change. Those who believe classical music is a game for Asians and Caucasians need to step down from their positions. They are both racist and extremely foolish. As a white person, I don’t know if my voice is the one that people want to hear, but what I have to say is this: everyone deserves access to arts education, and every child has equal potential to grow into the next Yo-Yo Ma or Itzhak Perlman. Shame on music educators who don’t want to see the beautiful smiles of 4 and 5 year olds learning how to play the cello completely regardless of the color of their skin. Seeing little tiny cellists smile makes my heart glow with joy–and knowing I get to be a part of their journey makes my day feel a little bit brighter.

Racism in classical music needs to END. I can’t believe that it’s still an issue. Shameful. We need to combat it with all of our strength, so that the world of the arts will become diversified naturally.
Young Musician winner Sheku Kanneh-Mason is just what classical music needs | Chi-chi Nwanoku
The comprehensively educated black cellist shows that classical music doesn’t have to be the preserve of a tiny elite. It should be placed back at the heart of education
By Chi-chi Nwanoku

Don’’t know if this has been shared already, but what a FANTASTIC article, and massive congratulations to Sheku Kanneh-Mason for his Shostakovich performance on Sunday. It was breathtaking 

I know not everyone is on the same page in ideologies but this is something that I believe most classical musicians share

I just had a moment of mental weakness and it came out of nowhere. Intrusive thoughts and crushing self loathing came out of nowhere (like I’m currently in the car with fam and I wanted to cry but couldn’t).
I wanted to drown out the world for a bit and I almost played MCR (b/c I’ve gotten into them all over again this week) but I decided to play my choral/orchestra piece playlist.
I’m so glad I did.
I remembered how healing music can be. I’ve always known, but it never fails to amaze me. It played the TMEA 2015 Women’s Choir performance of Erik Esenvalds’ Northern Lights and made myself meditate to it. Now I’m trying not to cry b/c this inexplicable emotion came over me. One of the many feelings that choral pieces can make me feel, but I can never pin point what they are. I however can describe it as this yearning for the amazing in the world, I felt wonder seep back into my body with every chord and passing phrase those girls sang. This yearning to continue living and continue to experience this feeling with music keeps me going to say the least. This was followed by the Baylor A Capella choir’s TMEA 2014 performance of Serenity (O Magnum Mysterium) by Ola Gjielo. Every new composition and setting of this universally known sacred text has never let me down but this is one of the stand outs and especially this performance of it. (Some background: I’m loosing touch with my catholic faith but I am fighting for my relationship with God and music has been an amazing medium for that) and this piece reinstated how music, and the moments of emotional climactic ecstasy it can create within me, are the closest I’ve ever felt to this sense of grace and release and mental/emotional freedom. And music has always been the thing to allow this. And I kinda thank God for that. So thankful.

If you read this I know it was long but I just needed to write this down. Tell me if I resonated with you in any way!

Afghanistan’s first female conductor

By Shaimaa Khalil

For many years, the Taliban banned music and the education of girls in Afghanistan - and although many women still find themselves restricted, one 17-year-old has become the country’s first female conductor.

Kabul is a noisy place with helicopters, sirens, and heavy traffic. But walking into a building in one of the city’s quieter neighbourhoods, I’m welcomed by quite a different sound.

Boys and girls are playing the piano, cello and flute as well as traditional Afghan stringed instruments such as the rubab and sarod. This is the Afghanistan National Institute of Music - the only school of its kind in the country.

The female students have just finished their first concert. Their male colleagues were watching and are now milling around, playing and chatting before heading home at the end of a big day.

What was so special about this concert - apart from the fact that it was an all-female ensemble playing music to a big audience in the middle of violence-ridden Kabul - was that it was led by the country’s very first female conductor, 17-year-old Negin Khpolwak who is also a student here.

Now, she has retreated along a concrete corridor to one of the rehearsal rooms where she’s sitting at the piano playing one of her favourite pieces - Piano Sonatina in C major by the Italian composer Muzio Clementi.

I can see she’s still learning it but what she lacks in experience, she makes up for with her spirit and passion.

“Khosh Amadeed - welcome,” says Negin with a shy smile. “Today my hands are aching a bit so I am not on a top form. But I love practising the piano.

"All I want is to become a very good concert pianist and conductor, not only in Afghanistan, but in the world,” she says.

“So did you grow up around music?” I ask. “No,” she says looking startled.

She comes from a poor family in Kunar province, a conservative area - one of the strongholds of the Taliban insurgency in the north-east of Afghanistan.

“Girls in Kunar don’t go to school and many are not allowed to study music by their families,” she says. “So I had to go to Kabul to fulfil my dream. My father helped me.”

When Negin was nine, he sent her to live in a children’s home in Kabul so that she could get an education. That’s where she first started listening to music and watching performances on television. 

She auditioned to join the institute and has been studying here for four years - of more than 200 students, about a quarter are girls. It wasn’t all plain sailing though. Negin’s mother was happy for her to go to school, but didn’t like the idea of her studying music. She wasn’t the only one who felt this way.

“My uncle told us, ‘No girls in our family should learn music. It’s against tradition.’”

Under pressure from her relatives, Negin had to leave the institute for six months. Eventually her father intervened, telling her uncle, “It’s Negin’s life. She should study music if she wants to.”

“So I came back,” she says.

This is a common problem, according to Ahmad Sarmast, the founder and director of the institute. “A child is enrolled with the full blessing of their parents but then an uncle or aunt or grandfather or village elder starts putting pressure on the parents to pull the child out of the music programme or from education in general.”

It’s not just tradition and conservatism that the institute has to contend with - there’s also violence. There are many here who believe most music is sinful. Last year, one of the student concerts organised outside the campus was targeted by a young suicide bomber - one person in the audience was killed while Sarmast’s hearing was damaged and eleven pieces of shrapnel lodged in his head.

“Does that not scare you, the prospect of further bombings?” I ask him. “No,” he says. “We are part of this struggle. We are standing against violence and terror with our arts and culture, particularly with music. That’s one of the ways we can educate our people about the importance of living in peace and harmony, rather than killing each other.”

He looks at Negin. “Part of my inspiration is her and students like her, who keep coming here despite the difficulties.”

In February 2013, Negin was chosen to represent the institute on a trip to the US where she performed at the Carnegie Hall in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, playing the sarod.

“It was so amazing. I felt so good but I had always wanted to become a pianist,” she says.

So after she returned to Kabul, she started learning the piano and took up conducting as well.

“It was my first time [conducting a performance] today. I was so happy. I cried when I got on the stage and saw all the people in the audience. I want Afghanistan to be like other countries in the world, where girls can become pianists and conductors.”

With that in mind, she’s also been practising conducting male and female students together in the mixed orchestra.

“So, when you become a famous pianist and play abroad, can I come along for free? Or will I have to pay for an expensive ticket?” I ask.

“Hmmm, no, sorry you have to pay,” she jokes. I say goodbye promising, one day, to come to one of her concerts.

And as we drive through checkpoints amid the noisy traffic, I can still hear Negin’s beautiful music along with the faint but still persistent promise of hope in Afghanistan.

Additional reporting by Huong Ly.

In Mao’s China, Western classical music was viewed as a tool of imperialism and instruments such as the piano and violin were destroyed as symbols of the bourgeoisie. Today, the country is experiencing piano-mania as an estimated 40 million children are learning to play the piano which is increasingly popular among the middle classes. While the European market for the instrument is declining, China is now both the world’s largest piano producer and consumer. Owning and displaying a grand piano such as a Steinway projects one’s culture, learning, wealth, and status.

Source: BBC

lavellans-grace  asked:

Hi Carrie! I genuinely do not mean to sound rude or anything and I am very sorry if I do! Just plain curious. You've said that you can't read music; how do you write song and harmonies then? As someone with classical education in music I find it very helpful to be familiar with what chords belong to which key (or do you know them? how?) and when writing harmonies knowing the relations and intervals between the notes. Once again, sorry if I sound rude! All the love xxx

You don’t sound rude at all! I do everything by ear! I don’t know how to explain it technically but I can hear when things sound right or wrong and I’m able to figure out harmonies by singing them and hearing what fits and sounds pleasant. It’s all i’ve ever really known so i’ve had years to practice and I can do it without too much difficultly these days! Saying this though, I am making an effort to learn to read music as I know how valuable it is and I wish I’d pushed myself harder as a kid when my brain was like a sponge! <3 


Computer scientist and Yale professor David Gelertner bemoans the sorry state of classical music in cyberspace, and offers some ideas for improvement in a great essay in The Wall Street Journal:

“To know nothing about Beethoven? That is cultural bankruptcy. That is collapse. It goes far beyond incompetence, deep into betrayal and farce.

“Why should we know anything about Beethoven?” The question was asked in all seriousness by a sophomore just a few months ago. When I dredged up old, tired clichés, he listened carefully—and seemed convinced! What could be sadder? He was only waiting for the smallest bit of encouragement. 

I told him (approximately), “You must know Beethoven’s music because no one has ever said anything deeper about what it means to be human, to look life and death in the eye, to know beauty at its purest and most intense—if you can take it. Because Beethoven asserts his own mere human self against the whole cosmos and makes it listen; he addresses God face-to-face, like Moses, whether God listens or not. And so people all over the world study and listen to and perform his music with reverence.” Clichés, but they were news to him.”