The Quest

I love teaching The History Of Western Music class. This course is a one year survey for students who major in other areas such as jazz or classical Arab music. I somehow feel that I have more freedom, and instead of trying to cover a great deal of material, I try to focus on interesting issues that might have some significance in my student’s lives as musicians and artists. Lately we explored renaissance madrigals and tried to learn through them about the period as well as about the text – music relationship.

In class we discussed the connection between music and poetry through various examples of Madrigals. It has been said that “the Renaissance created the Artist”. Artist rather than Artisan. Craft is very easy to see but art, although many times noticeable, is hard to define. Innovation is the first thing that comes to one’s mind concerning art. Yet, when one thinks of Mozart in relation to Haydn, it is hard to know who was more innovative.

The first thing that helps me make the distinction is very subjective: I can be easily impressed by craft, but it is art that touches me. Continue reading

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Teachers: An Endangered Species

The last video in the DriveADoubleBass series went on the air.

I have received many nice comments and I am very grateful to those people who took the time to tell me what they have learned and say they wish it weren’t the last one.

This is all happening while I am preparing for my video conference lecture on December 1st. I will be in Jerusalem speaking to a group in Helsinki.

Last June, when I was at the Harvard Management and Leadership in Education seminar, this topic of distance learning and on-line classes was one of the more controversial topics. What will become of us teachers? Are we going to turn into an endangered species in ten years? An extinct species in twenty? Will people learn how to play the double bass by watching my videos rather than attending lessons? Continue reading

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Safe Zone

To Ryoko Baba

Music has always been a part of man’s life. In ancient times, even before anyone spoke about the importance of music education, old nations and tribes made music. It was not due to the abundant publication of papers and dissertations, all pointing out the influence of music education on the cognitive abilities of the child and thus on his or her achievements in school. Music has always been a part of man’s social life. It was there in religious ceremonies as well as in other occasions. It had been there long before researchers have spoken about the influence of music education on the social skills of the child.

I have asked many music teachers what were the most important values they were hoping to pass on to their students. Many of them gave similar answers: Continue reading

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To Be and To Love

In the last lesson of our class, Teaching is an Art, we did a little exercise in perception: I was showing excerpts from a film and I asked my students to write down every little thing they noticed. I was certain that they would notice the poetry in the film, I knew they would enjoy the camera work, but I wanted them to notice the small and the unimportant details, the things that are not supposed to change our lives: tall trees, two turtles, the routine, things that do not cost anything but are priceless; a child’s eyes shining after he managed to flip a pancake in the air, discussing difficult matters courageously, the routine; learning spelling and writing dictations, learning the numbers and coloring in the book; the girl with the teddy bear, the routine; the toy horse on the train’s window, love. Continue reading

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An Event

To Racheli Galay

Cellist Anner Bylsma wrote in his book, Bach, the Fencing Master, that children like art, they do not like culture[1]. As I see it, art belongs to the creator and culture belongs to the consumer. Last Thursday, I participated in an event at the National Library in Jerusalem: Jewish Music Now. It was the second concert of a project, conceived and run by Racheli Galay, in which young students and faculty from the Jerusalem Conservatory collaborated with the National Library in Jerusalem in performance of Jewish music from the archives of the National Library. Continue reading

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De gustibus non est disputandum[1]

The subject of quality is a reoccurring motif in the discussions. You hear about quality everywhere and it seems a subject which has become fashionable – bon ton[2].
Surprisingly enough, there is hardly a disagreement about quality. Once it is there, we identify it immediately, even if it is not exactly in our area of expertise. I was wondering if just as with quality, there are other grey areas where people have similar opinions about certain things although they do not have a clear definition for them. I asked various people some questions about the same piece of classical music. For example, I asked them if a piece was subjective or objective. On other occasions I asked if a piece was introverted or extroverted. I even dared ask people which tense was a piece composed in: past, present, future, or maybe in the conditional? Continue reading

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Chess

I am not a great chess player, but I like the game. People like to play chess with me because I usually lose. Once, in the middle of a game, my friend, who is a scientist, called out in despair: “what kind of game are you playing? All your pieces are hanging in the air.” I smiled and asked him if this is not what games were for. Aren’t they the place for us to take the risks we do not dare take in real life? Continue reading

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