I need to keep evolving.  That means staying current, and that means staying up with what these youngsters are listening to.  So it requires some time on my part and sometimes painfully enduring the contrived chord progressions and hollow lyrics of any number of artists that students feel compelled to ask me to listen to.  So I decided I would be proactive and make the commitment on my time – so I watched the Grammy Awards.

What a great night! (I am going to keep coming back to that word more frequently than a MLB player hears the word perjury lately).  First some absolute highlights:

  • I am by no means an Alicia Keys fan.  But she (her performance) was great.  She brought out John Mayer, and for retaining that Billy Joel-esque looks he certainly gets around well on the guitar.  I made it a point to download “No One” – although it will never make it to my ipod (that is reserved for the likes of Ticheli, Boysen, Camphouse, Reed, Gillingham, Balmages, Erickson, McBeth, Hilliard, Loest, and some guy named Holst).
  • I am so an official Foo Fighters fan.  I did two of their songs with my marching band this past fall.  After hearing them on Sunday night, it was confirmed – they were great!  Dave Grohl and the crew have it going on in all the right ways.
  • The Gospel Music nominees performed highlighted by Aretha Franklin.  In an era where many of the big names in the early years of Rock are passing away (rest in peace James Brown, Wilson Pickett) it was nice to see Aretha again (though in a different style).  Ludacris’ intro was great – “Prepare to your soul sanctified.”
  • Herbie Hancock! Great! Herbie Hancock with Lang Lange playing “Rhapsody in Blue” on National TV! Great! How many of you knew that? Probably 90% of America walked to the kitchen to get more pretzels and a beer the minute the clarinet started.  I was so juiced about it!  Take notice that this was real music, by two incredible musicians! And then to have your Grammy award (which it was 40 some years since a jazz guy won it) presented to you by Quincy Jones? It’s like getting being ordained for Priesthood by the late Pope John Paul.  Yeah, it’s that big.
  • Beyonce. Disturbingly not great.  Not that she ever has been….
  • Joan Tower.  Who? Oh, yeah the Best Classical Contemporary Composition, Best Classical Album, and Best Orchestral Performance Grammy Winner for Made In America (Nashville Symphony Orchestra led by Slatkin) Great! Just not televised which is not great!
  • Keith O. Johnson. Another who? Engineer for Garden of Dreams the Grammy nominated Best Engineered Album.  And the album – yeah, Dallas Wind Symphony (Jerry Junkin) they are pretty alright if you are in to that “they-play-great- music-with-pristine-intonation-balance-and-musical-expression” thing (And yes, I am a pretty big fan of that kind of music performance!!!).  They didn’t win, but would it be awesome to hear them get to perform some year on the show!  If the Grammy Foundation really wanted to hit one out of the park for music education why not bring them in and give them some serious exposure!
  • Best Instrumental Arrangement? The Grammy went to Vince Mendoza. Another who? But many of us already know this is the stuff of Joe Zawinul (who passed away in September of 2007).
  • And while we are paying homage, look no further than the tribue by the classical fan-fav Josh Groban and the understated Andrea Bocelli.  Groban is fine with me, but Bocelli is where it is at.  Sure the tribute was being done for many who had passed away, but it was so fitting as the final still photo was of Pavarotti.  One day I am sure we will pay similar homage to Bocelli, though I hope that day is far, far away.  And BTW, he was great!

It was a rewarding experience to watch.  As I reflect on the class I led my fellow Doc students on today at KSU, I cannot help but come back to this thought: Don’t stand in the way of your students learning about all kinds of music.  We must equip our students with the musical experiences and knowledge that will allow them to be educated consumers in society.  We should be the conduit that allows the spark of all kinds of music to ignite them – not the electrician who only wires certain areas of the house for certain things.  Keep evolving by figuring out what kids are listening to so that  you are never that teacher whose music time has passed by.  Certainly we should develop a definition for what is music, and criteria for evaluating music that we can lead them to make educated choices.  Whether good or bad is an entirely different subjective can of worms.  But it is our duty as Educators to provide diverse experience in our teaching beyond what society offers in culture.  I think we would all be surprised by how giving students the power to explore, evaluate, and decide on their own will lead them to a healthier relationship with music.  A healthier regard and esteem for music would definitely make society a much better place.  And I don’t think that there is NO ONE who would argue with that.

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