Music not just for fun LO7693

Ray Evans Harrell (
Fri, 31 May 1996 02:11:35 -0400

Replying to LO7670 --

Keith Cowan said about the Fine Arts as a learning system:
>(PS this dialog about different types of learning deserves some attention
>on LO. I believe that What we are learning can influence the future as
>much as the quantity.

Hi Keith, naturally I agree with you. The development of the systems in
the brain that create imagination in the visual, aural, kinesthetic,
kinetic, chemical, haptic senses as well as the symbolizing processes are
all time limited. Many have to happen before the child is ten and most
before the teen years if they are to be expert in their skills. If this
does not happen, then the adult simply will not perceive except on a very
rudimentary level. Example: The Thai language has many different (K)
sounds. Even as a professional performer and teacher of European
phonetics I do not have the potential to even hear most of those sounds
because I have no early background in them. This is a principle that
stretches across our ability to read gestures, hear languages and
communicate effectively with our colleagues and team mates as well as our
ability to complete complex situations that require holistic thinking.

Proof of the holistic nature of this kind of intelligence can be found in
the offspring of highly talented parents. If the child has had an
opportunity to be around the parent's work, they often are capable of
accomplishing intuitively the work of the parent. I'm reminded of my
college roommate whose father was a scientist on the Manhattan Project.
Jim was a physical chemistry major in the top of his class at the
University of Tulsa, which has a world class program for the Petroleum
Industry. Jim's work was a part of that program on the graduate level.
He was given an "unknown" to analyze for his final exam one semester that
had several tricky elements that were hard to prove. He knew what the
make-up of the "unknown" was from the moment that he smelled it but it
took him all semester to prove that it was what he had holistically
analyzed through his own perceptual mechanism. He learned this from his
Father's chemistry lab, where he studied and imitated this man whom he
admired and loved. I also have a cantor's son who is a successful Wall
Street Banker, as a student. This man has sung in some of the most
prestigious situations with an intelligence that cannot be taught to
people who have not been around high-class music making. He extends this
aural/oral talent to his confidence and an exceptional ability to
manipulate and remember numbers. It is all of a piece to him.

This is not to say that raw ability does not sometimes carry a person who
has had a miserable background to the top of their profession. I suspect
you could make as good a case, as the psycho-analysts have, for neurotic
obsession being the element that created success in some tortured souls.
But, the big difference is the ease and happiness that these holistically
trained individuals, who sat at the knees of loving parents doing their
work, exude as they accomplish amazing feats of difficulty with grace and

The purpose of the arts in the training of the young is to:

1. build a foundation of pleasure and focus in the development
of perceptual imagination,
2. instantaneous holistic response to written abstract symbols,
3. long term discipline that breaks the short term homework teaching
into a greater understanding of the whole of a subject and its
place in the student's life,
4. the PLEASURE of critical thinking through public performance,
5. the development of team learning through regular ensemble
practice. If you understand group rhythm, then finding the
rhythm of a team in the solving of problems is less of a
problem in itself.
6. To develop a comfortable expressiveness and focus in situations
of public stress.
7. Gender free expressivity that is developmental and safe for
the emotional life of the student.
8. All art is time, space, culture specific. To learn French music
is to become aware of the inner life of the French culture,
rhythm, inflections, emotions etc.
9. Ensemble improvisation creates instantaneous intelligent
responses to new and varied situations.
10. The development of Artistry is the development of perfection
through discipline, commitment, courage, stubbornness and

When all of the arts are taught well, in the beginning, by expert art
teachers (that in itself is a problem) and tied to language teaching, you
have a recipe for a student who is prepared to move in any direction their
talent takes them. How many former music students are there in computer
work? That Wall Street Banker, I mentioned earlier, got his degree in
English Literature (also the arts). Both former CEOs of Sony were
musicians. One a tenor and the other a conductor. (Maybe it was
Drucker's Orchestra)

I hasten to explain that I am not talking about art professionals. The
unique artistic life is a skill and a work just like any other work. In
the Western World you find more difficult personalities in the
professional arts because of the "Winner take All" requirement for making
a simple living. I am not talking about teaching your average child to
enter this world. I am however speaking of the Artistic ground of
discipline that equips the average person to live a life that fits the
requirements that the businesses are telling the schools they want. Along
the way they will become more sophisticated and refined in the culture of
their own communities and the nations as a whole. That would be a
wonderful "shot in the arm" for the composers, performers, painters and
poets who now must write only for their grandchildren's generation and
live in poverty.

I believe I covered all of Benjamin Wagner's wish list and like Rol
Fessenden said about doing it in high school, I would suggest that most of
this has to be developed in pre-school and the early grades or they will
consider it too hard for the rest of their lives. Most schools tear the
group down for the elevation of the "individual" or so they say. This is
the basis of their homework assignments. I would suggest to you that
there is nothing that "makes" an individual faster than pain, and making
an idiot of yourself at a piano keyboard in front of an audience is a
great assertion of your aloneness. Solving that aloneness through
discipline and success makes individuals who are capable of having fun at

Wagner's wish list:
>> *The ability to work effectively in teams.
>> *The ability to work effectively with people of both genders and
>> diverse disciplines, cultures, races, religions and nationalities.
>> *The ability to think quickly, clearly, and critically.
>> *The ability quickly and easily to communicate effectively both
>> orally and in writing.
>> *The ability to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances.
>> *The ability to appreciate the total enterprise, not just one of
>> its elements.
>> *The ability to work without sacrifice of integrity, even in
>> corrupting environments."

Keith, you also asked:
>When was the last time an organization paid for Fine Art education
>as a way to teach people how to be creative in different ways!)

The great British Brass bands of the last century were all company
organizations that were funded by companies that believed that it created
team work and gave personal pleasure to their mining communities. The
world's greatest amateur choruses in Wales came from the same place.
Unfortunately as these companies have failed and downsized, they have
stopped funding these organizations in favor of the "new team management
techniques"? and these community organizations are disappearing. Thank
God we got Bryn Terfel before they did. The new people have no voice. A
good read on this would be the economic-historian Mike Hollinshead on the
futurework list archive.

Keith, I read your article and enjoyed your perceptive points. Who knows,
if we keep it up we might even bring back, not only the pleasure of
learning, but pleasure period. Pleasure is America's biggest and best
kept secret export as you point out. .

Ray Evans Harrell

-- (Ray Evans Harrell)

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