This short four minute video is so powerful I'm still reeling. So concise, so profound, and so passionate is the message that I hope you will share it with every music educator you know. It's from a panel discussion at the WASBE conference in 2009. No one is held blameless here...we all have some mirror-checking to do.
Frank, thank you for speaking the truth at a time we need it most. Let's take all the energy we are spending on bucket lists, competition, and empire building and put it into becoming better music teachers and making sure every student receives music education.
First of all, [in] most school systems, the person who has something to do with music is charged with teaching music....isn't charged with organizing band, isn't charged with organizing [a] contest, or winning trophies...those are activities.
The band program has got to be a music education program. We have got to grow music lovers. Kids who love music! Not band, not activity, music. And it starts with the teacher loving music! You are what you eat. You order fruitcakes and...you know...buses...that's not what musicians do. That's what people do who want activities.
We have got to say that music is essential to the development of every child. Not just the ones in my band, so if I get the budget I want, and the space I want, I'm perfectly happy...I'm NOT happy. I'm not happy till every child has quality music education, because for the full development of that child that's essential. Now, it's not essential that they have activities, they've got plenty of them!
So, we have got to make band programs... music education programs.
Because what happens, is we have band programs...I mean there are millions and millions and millions of kids who've sat for how many years in band programs...who graduate from high school, and they're not... they don't love music. They might love a spectrum of music, but they would have loved that without the band program. The idea of education is taking what a kid loves and [can] do, and expanding it, not taking away anything, but expanding it to a larger world, so that they can appreciate more, they can love more, they can experience more.
So we have to grow music lovers. Then we don't have to sell music.
If we don't, we have to sell it. So if you walk in any lobby of the professional orchestra today, they're selling tee shirts, mugs, everything else to stay afloat. We don't have music lovers...we gotta sell it like Madison Avenue does.
We gotta get serious people, about making band programs, music programs. That means the focus is on helping every single child grow to understand, appreciate, and love music. Now that's a big, big job. And it's easier to dangle prizes in front of kids, so we can say "we're better than everyone else" because we won the trophy.
The issue in art is not being better than anybody else, it's about finding who you are, and being creative. There's no trophies for that, but there's great enrichment and great fulfillment from it.