So if CNN would have been around when Mozart or Liszt died, would there be the kind of scrutiny today about their personal lives? I am not going to talk about his life, or his legacy because that should probably be left to someone who knows what happened and actually followed Michael Jackson. But the tragedy of this situation has left me with questions about the professional responsibility each of us carries forward in their work place, and our responsibility to our students and the music.
Pick your artist and they have skeletons in their closet – I am not sure there is a musician alive who can say they are completely clean, honest, and devoid of some sort of crutch – except maybe Brittney Spears…just checking to make sure you are still reading. Thinking about Mozart, who definitely died too young – was his personal life a detriment to others? Perhaps to his family, but to others I would guess no. What about Liszt? My recent work at Kent State (which has been burying me lately – sorry for the long stretches with no new blogging) has involved a lot of reading about Beethoven. The one side of him that I never really connected with him is how he elevated the expectation levels for the performers, the music being created, and the audience. He elevated his position to that of being the “superstar” of his day and probably had to endure some unkind public critiques at one point of his career. We know he had a temper, but what was his conduct like when nobody was watching him?
But another side of Beethoven was the advancement that music can have strong ethical content. Once that concept was accepted, then the world owed the composer a living. The composer would create a serious and intellectually respected masterpiece that would outlive its day and the impetus which led to its creation (Longyear, 1988). But did it mean it created more ethical musicians who created it?
One part of Reimer’s 3rd Edition of his Philosophy of Music Education was his open questioning “should it be claimed that the point and purpose of music education is to create more ethical human beings?”. He outlines 5 dimensions that are clearly part of our responsibility as music educators to impart to our students. By doing so in the unique way that music can, these values – which so many of us can extol – make the musical experience a life changing one.
Read on in Chapter 4 and you won’t be sorry. The value of trust, competence, cooperation, respect, and courage cannot be measured in our programs by trophies and plaques, but the people that move forward and contribute positively to society – no matter what their profession. Another day we will discuss those five dimensions and the attitudes that can be cultivated from using the musical experience to not only make great musicians, but also make great people.
Longyear, R. M. (1988). Nineteenth Century Romanticism in Music (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Reimer, B. (2003). A philosophy of music education: Advancing the vision (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.<–>