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Rules are a few posts earlier.

These questions came from truthmonkey42.

1. As an individudual with experience teaching in the public school system, what four things would you like to see changed (whether it be emphasis, funding, whatever) in music education?

2. You find two children sitting in front of your house in a basket with a "please take care of these children" note. You promptly call social services, and they say that they will take care of the children, but you must name them first, what would you name them, and why?

3. If you could re-live one non-relationship moment of your life, what would it be? What four songs would you use in the soundtrack?

4. Being sent to an island to survive on your own for 2 years with no contact with the outside world. What 10 things would you bring with you, and why?

5. Please name three things you would like to understand better.

Here are answers, but rearranged some.

1. You find two children sitting in front of your house in a basket with a "please take care of these children" note. You promptly call social services, and they say that they will take care of the children, but you must name them first, what would you name them, and why?

god. i don't want the responsibility of naming them if i'm not going to be the one raising them. I have a hard time picturing what i would name a pet.

whatever names i choose for them would depend on what feels right. i'd want to look at them and get an instinct for what their names were, or at least whether the names should be common or unique. If no names were to jump out at me, i'd probably have to pick common names to be safe. But hopefully i could see something that helped me define what the names should be.

2. Being sent to an island to survive on your own for 2 years with no contact with the outside world. What 10 things would you bring with you, and why?

1. a lot of staff paper.
2. writing utensils.
3. a sharp knife.
4. a satellite radio and CD player. like XM or something.
5. a laptop with music programs installed, particularly Finale, Vision, and Max/MSP/Jitter.
6. some kind of audio outputter. speakers, headphones, whatever.
7. a heavy duty brita filter
8. a sleeping bag with three pillows
9. a small collection of books, for entertainment and research
10. a video game console with portable screen.

I mean, aside from the sharp knife, that's pretty much what i live off of now. it'd be nice to have a pool table near by too to do drills.

interesting mix of stuff. wonder what that says about me.

3. Please name three things you would like to understand better.

1. How electricity works. I'm becoming more and more interested in making my own infrared MIDI triggers, but in order to do that, i need to learn some basic electrical engineering. I understand the words "transistor" and "capacitor", but i don't know what they really mean or what they do.

I've never been the greatest at that kind of technical knowledge, though. Teaching my electronic music classes has helped me learn more about sound properties, but even so there is a lot I don't know, and there's a lot that I might know but can't put into practical use in an instinctual way. I couldn't tell you right now what would happen if I took a sample, modulated it with a square wave, and put it through a band-pass filter. I could make an okay guess, but if i'm going to continue doing any sort of sample-based electronic composition or even real-time manipulation, i have to get a better memory for that kind of technical detail.

2. it's kind of an easy answer to say "myself", but it's true. I keep on discovering new layers in me that contradict themselves. At one level, i'll still be the insecure self-bashing i'm-no-good person that I was for most of my pre-college/pre-drum corps life. At another level, i'll be the more confident me, the one that knows that I'm a good teacher and that I can be a great friend. That's a huge oversimplification and only deals with one element, but i know that i confuse myself a great deal about who i am, what i want to be, and how i want to be. I feel like if I could understand myself better *and* feel confident about some of those aspects, i can get better clarity which in the end helps me and those i care about.

3. After Effects and Premiere. If i'm going to start delving into the Jitter part of Max/MSP, i'm going to need to understand the basics of video editting, what's possible, what's reasonable.

4. If you could re-live one non-relationship moment of your life, what would it be? What four songs would you use in the soundtrack?

That's a tough call. There are a few candidates. They all have to do with music. And it's hard to say that one has more "value" than the other. So i'll just pick one.

In 1999, i taught the Washington Township Indoor Percussion Line. I drove three times a week to teach there. it was an hour and a half each way, plus a toll bridge, and I didn't get paid a cent. But i loved those kids. they had issues, they were quirky. But i was so attached to them, so involved with them, put everything i could into them because i wanted to see them succeed, grow, prosper.

During the season, there were a lot of highs and lows, some big instabilities that would make each show a crap shoot. During the Finals weekend in Wildwood, i remember the prelims performance going pretty well, but there were still some ensemble issues that scared the staff for when we would perform at finals.

And when the kids performed at finals... they kicked ass. There were still little issues, but everything clicked so well overall, i couldn't help but cry and laugh out loud at the same time. I could almost see the collective energy floating about the drum line as they performed. And i remember that when it was all done, when everything was schlepped off the field and everyone finally got a chance to relax, everyone was crying. It was the best show they put on the whole season, and they knew it. And it made all of us closer than we had been all season. It's hard to describe how it felt, but it's a moment i'll never forget.

5. As an individudual with experience teaching in the public school system, what four things would you like to see changed (whether it be emphasis, funding, whatever) in music education?

boooy have you opened a can of worms with this question. So much of my life is dedicated to exactly this politic.

the problem with a question like this is that i could come up with a million different things that i'd like to see changed in music education, but a lot of it boils down to one or two key things that have a bigger picture context than just the public school system. It has to do with our society, and particularly our media.

So much of our society revolves around competition and skin-deep entertainment. Sports is such a dominant force in our culture. millions of people not only watch sports but follow it religiously. There are three or four channels that are pretty much completely devoted to talking about baseball, basketball, and football. adverts use sports role models or general athleticism to promote their products. Star football players and college football players leave college early to go to the pros and are praised for it.

i'm not saying that sports aren't worthy of respect. I admire athletes to a degree. i'm a huge hockey fan, a huge billiards fan, and i like watching football and tennis on the telly. But what about the arts? Arts in general deserve at least the same amount of respect, but popular society gives it a mere dismissive glance. How many adverts talk about this famous musician, that famous painter, this famous author? How many kids growing up get an equal opportunity to choose those kinds of people as their role model as opposed to athletes?

Every day i'm reminded of where music education stands in our nation's society, and it can be discouraging and frustrating. Tax payers who don't have kids involved in those programs don't understand how important they are. They don't understand how those programs can help expand kids' minds and teach them life lessons that no academic class provides. So when they see a budget proposal or a vote for a measure to give public schools more money for those kinds of purposes, they think it's a frivolous expense. Music, drama, art... those are hobbies. They're not a stable career. They're not worth much in the long run. etc.

Oregon is the worst situation i've seen so far - both from an attitude and a practical financial standpoint - but i taught a *lot* of marching band programs in PA, DE, and NJ, and more often than not, the music and arts department get pissed on by the administration, the peer faculty, and the peer students. Half of the schools can't afford to have an orchestra. The band programs need replacement instruments or replacement parts that can't fit in their budget. Unless the programs are Big and Loud!, they don't get a lot of respect.

I could go on and on and on about it, but there's another half, a deeper level that I want to cover as well. But i guess the answer to this half is that if i was going to change anything, i would change the attitude. And i'd make it mandatory for all students in high school to take music classes as a requirement. Basic notation, basic music history, basic music reading. At least five or so years ago when i last read about it, Europe had that requirement for all public school students because even the public schools have curriculums that are influenced by the Church, who promote arts and music as fundamental necessities of education. I want that in the States. I want people to at least grasp and get a taste of music in the same way they grasp and get a taste of math, science, writing, and social studies.

The other half has more to do with the college level, the attitude of music education in college and the general politics of classical music as it relates to my field.

There's a big discrepency between general world history or national history versus music history. When people think about World War II, they immediately think of it has history. But when people think about classical music from the same time period (1940s-1950s), they associate it with "new music". And it pisses me off for a few reasons.

FIrst of all, music from that time period was important historically, but people don't really write like that anymore nor do they have that kind of germanic post-WWII "fuck you if you don't understand it" kind of attitude anymore. So much has happened since then. John Cage pioneered composers to not conform to that paradigm, to follow their own paradigm. I shudder to think what music would be like now if he didn't play a role. And because of that role, new music has branched out to be so many different things. The music of Steve Reich is different than Steve Mackey is different than Gyorgy Ligeti, Colin McPhee, George Crumb, etc. etc. There's so much variety. You can't use the term "new music" and associate it with a universal characteristic.

Yet when a majority of the public or even performing musicians hear the term "new music", they immediately give it negative judgement with no benefit of the doubt. And the frustrating thing is that that attitude isn't present just in the general public or classical music listening audience (such as the rich people who only go to an orchestra concert to be seen as "civilized") , it's an attitude that's present in *graduate music students*. Both Music education and music performance majors. A couple of years ago, i took a Music History class on music of the 20th century. Graduate level class. There were six or seven composers that sat in the back row. Everyone else was a music major of some sort. And every class, we would sit there and listen to the crappy teacher make overgeneralizations about the music, state that there's no good opera written after 1950, that new music doesn't have the same strength as stuff from the past - he would just go on and on essentially bashing my way of life.

And if the teacher was a guy who everyone dismissed as just being an ignorant dickwad, that might make it okay, but a majority of the class *agreed* with him. Our future music educators who teach impressionable young kids. They would have hurt me less if they stabbed me in the neck. It made me question my life choice to be a composer. I remember thinking, it's hard enough to get the general public to listen to classical music, and then to listen to new music. How are they going to be receptive to new music, to how i want to make a living, if the lessons they learn are from these kinds of teachers who turn a blind eye to music after 1950 as being negligable?

It made me depressed, angry, and frustrated, but it also helped to strengthen the resolve I already have to my field of music and my field of music composition. In this, i am not shy and reserved. I speak loudly and proudly that I am a Composer, and it is my goal in music to do what I can to shake the norm, to challenge the conventions, and to promote the idea that music and new music are important and exciting and promote personal and group growth for anyone who's willing to listen. Even if i turn one head, expand one mind, it's worth it.

Incidentally, after complaints, a letter, and a conference, the composition majors in that class managed to forcibly remove that teacher from ever teaching that class again. I'm pretty proud of that.

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