I spend more time with your kids than you do

March 4, 2009

I realized that I spend 60 hours per academic year with the Freshman class of Music History, World Music, and Music (performance, MusEd, and composition) majors. [120 hours if I teach them over two years.] Statistically, during the academic year, I probably spend more time with this first year class than they do with their parents.

So, being the childless, gay married professor that I am, I still have parenting instincts from time to time; and their parents would be proud of the words of wisdom I pass on to their children. I used to call them “commercials” — words of wisdom, selling nothing but my own take on reality. Now, I just cut to the chase and tell them something specific that has happened in my life, that will very likely happen in their lives or to someone they know. I tell them this, not to test them on the final, but as a compassionate big brother [I won’t embrace “father”] figure.

When I spend as much time as I do with these eager-to-learn Freshmen, I can’t help but give advice.

“Don’t underestimate who could be hiring you in ten years. It could be that nerdy girl over there who never says anything. Or that gay guy who is so over-the-top. Or that know-it-all girl — the Hermione-type — who always raises her hand with any question. Or… Get along with each other.”

“Be open to learning about each other’s differences — and I don’t use the word TOLERANT.”

“Coming out” is an exorcism that belongs to everyone; not just gays and lesbians.”

I tell my students: Music is not just notes — yes, we will learn about the tradition of harmony, but music is life, death, love, cheating, longing, sadness, eroticism, relationships, play, and exorcisms of all kinds, cast in notes; harmonized with the soul of; and rhythmicized through the metabolism of, the composer.

Many musicians and non-musicians who sing, have a “reset button” that they can access by playing music: the pains and stress of the world evaporate for one brief shining moment. Oftentimes musicians play, and others perceive it as magic, or a gift from God, or genius. We must realize that good musicians are magicians, and can conjure everything and exorcise all that needs to be exorcised — Like taking a baseball bat and smashing it against a tree after your wife has left you; but instead, you pour your chi into a Vivaldi oboe sonata and tear your audience’s heart out.

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Music is not just notes § inter-net-viewer.nl
March 5, 2009 at 5:03 am

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