Music not just for fun LO7605

Ray Evans Harrell (
Sat, 25 May 1996 14:53:47 -0400

Subject: Music is not just for a fun future.
[Host Note: I had to shorten the subject line a bit...]

To the list:

Last week there was an article in the NYTimes about the music
education of children in the Japanese schools. They stated something
that I have direct experience with, i.e. the terrific quality of the
average music education of the Japanese child in Western Art music.
The article drew a connection between Math and Science scores and
the music program. The Music program enhanced the scores.

The Artsvision program that has been used in several inner city schools
around the U.S. has raised schools from failure in the SAT scores to
the top scores of their cities. In the schools where the Fine Arts
have become at least a 30% part of the core educational program, crime,
drugs and a skewed school community have become a thing of the past.

When Sputnik went up in the 1950s the three "Rs" were pressed with heavy
emphasis on science and the competition with the Russians. Within a few
short years of competition we placed men on the moon and the emphasis on
science died in the schools. The intent of the science had been to win
the competition and we won. Or did we?

One of the casualties of the competition was the traditional creative and
performing arts. (It should be noted that though the Russians lost the
race they did not give up their emotional history and continued to have
the *finest performing arts schools in the world.) In America, the joy of
exploration was replaced with authority and the fear of failure. The
emotional memory of America's peoples contained within thousands of
performances were replaced with telling and reading of historical
writings. The analysis of abstract aural and visual forms were replaced
with numbers and the motivation for the growth of the human spirit was
replaced with greed. The growth necessary to maintain the intelligence
was simply not taught. The emotional growth, abstract process and
communal dialogue that had been the province of the Fine Arts activities
were replaced by "Psycho-therapy, Group and Family Therapy and Work team
therapies. Where Freud analyzed people in three years, that length became
the length not of psycho-analysis but short-term therapy. But did it make
us happier or more competitive?

In the economically viable arts, did leaving the heart of a people in the
hands of the movies and stadium size commercial entertainments make us a
stronger, more intelligent, long term thinking, discriminate people? And
most of all did it make us more sophisticated about Math, Science and
Money? This is important because the success of only 2% of the music
graduates in Fine Arts performance from U.S. music schools, per year, is,
in every way of looking at it, a colossal failure.

The loss of perception and imagination among American students effects
every area of American society including Science, the area that we were
all supposed to become "21st century intelligent" in and economics which
takes up so much of our time in the Congress. The NYTimes this morning
had something to say about both as well as the knowledge of our survival.
(NYTimes Pg . 12 National Report 5/24/96 AMERICANS FLUNK SCIENCE, A STUDY
FINDS "AP") Today's New York Times reported a study that said half of the
adults in America didn't know the Earth revolved around the sun once a
year, 9% knew what a molecule was, 21% understood DNA (even after the
trial of the century) one third understood the Ozone danger and 5%
understood the Acid Rain danger to the planet. But 72% thought that
science was a good idea. I quote about the study:

"Only about 25% of American adults got passing grades in
a National Science Foundation survey of what people know
about basic science and economics. Even fewer of those
surveyed felt they were well informed about the technical

"The survey of 2,006 randomly selected adults was carried
out last October by the Chicago Academy of Sciences for the
science foundation. Conducted in random telephone interviews,
the survey had a margin of error of plus or minus three
percentage points...."

"Even money questions stumped most Americans. A 10-point
quiz on economics showed that only 22% could correctly answer
seven or more of the questions."

In every school where the Arts have been made a part of the core
curriculum, SAT scores have jumped dramatically, crime, drug use and
community alienation have been healed. Even the Japanese understand and
teach their competitive children our Fine Arts as a part of their programs
to develop their children's sophistication. As to sophistication,
discipline and motivation I quote 10 year old Yukiko Inose from the

"How long I play depends on how well I practice," the pigtailed Yukiko
said "I go to bed when I accomplish what I want to accomplish that day."
(Sheryl WuDunn NYTimes,5/15/96)

Is it any wonder that a country the size of California with no natural
resources, except its people, has become a world economic power in forty
years when they show such intelligence in teaching their young?

Ray Evans Harrell
Ray Evans Harrell is the Artistic Director/Conductor of the Magic
Circle Opera Repertory Ensemble in NYC. A chamber opera company
dedicated to the development of uniquely American performers and
multi-media art works. Harrell is currently writing a book on the
economic issues of For-Profit institutions in the Fine Arts in
American society with Canadian Historian-Economist Mike Hollinshead.
Over the last 25 years Harrell has trained performers in all of the
major venues in NYCity as well as NYCity's Manhattan School of
Music and Mannes College.
*note: The Japanese have been searching the world for the best
conservatories to train their musicians after they graduate in Japan.
Russia has begun to tap this market with their fine schools. A
population that has been up to 40% of the students in American
conservatories is now being split between American and Russian
Schools. The winner at present is undecided but the Asian students
generally are the fee paying students in American student bodies
and are important both for talent and economics. If the Russian
musicians who have immigrated to NYCity are any indication then
this important resource for American conservatories could most
definitely be in trouble especially if the politicians continue
to damage America's leadership in the art world by demeaning the
Fine Arts in their speeches as well as refusing to fund the root
organizations that provide creative training and work for the
school graduates as well as the schools themselves.

-- (Ray Evans Harrell)

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