Music, whole systems, whole self LO11656

ray evans harrell (
Sat, 04 Jan 1997 22:13:40 -0800

Precedence: bulk

> Michael Erickson ( said:
> Fri, 3 Jan 1997 09:12:03 -0800 (PST)

> After dragging me into a local choir-and my resulting discovery that I
> also have some facility for this sort of work, I've concluded that
> music is an excellent "integrator" of mind function,

Michael, it has been a good day with a workshop with one of America's
greatest opera directors working with my students and my daughter giving
good auditions for the school that she wants, so I'm feeling very mellow
at about this moment.

If I may risk gilding the lily on your excellent addition to the
discussion. I would like to talk more about the different skills that the
various musical styles enhance but for the moment, I would just like to
share a discussion that my wife heard on the bus between two New York City
High School Teachers.

They were discussing the problems of the present teenage boy "machismo"
which puts the young girls in a position of being harassed by the boys.
The boys are into the "affect" of "radical authority", the one teacher
said the language and behavior of bigotry and fascism of both left and
right persuasion were the "in" trend of the moment from the media and in
the teenage entertainment.

She was noting how difficult it was for the girls to be "sensitively
empowered" in such an atmosphere and that compassionate and sympathetic
language was considered "politically correct" which is a kind of cardinal
sin in today's media fashions. Something very important to the average
high school adolescent.

The girls only response was to quell any sensitivity and to learn to be
aggressively defensive. This teacher felt that there was a side of the
children's development that was being lost and that the "bigoted authority
patterns" (she used the word "harassment") begat a violence in the school
that created an uncomfortable place for women teachers as well, in their
quest to do their jobs and develop the academic side of these testosterone
laden young men.

(This all reminded me of the continual reference to lying made on
political TV programs. Places where opinion has the force of fact. She
indicated that the idea of "spin doctoring had entered the realm of
academics not from the teacher's side as is often the media spin, but from
the side of the student's excuse for their behavior. This weeks test
scores for NYCity, of course, changed that spin to another type as in
"reeling" from the lowest scores in NYState. All of this from the city
that has the greatest media environment in America.)

The other teacher was short and too the point. She simply said "teach the
boys piano!" In my time this would have been equivalent to saying "give
them silk underwear" but she went further. She said that the boys who
studied piano learned to think in long term work procedures. That the
development of focus on the intricate aural/physical/psychological tasks
in a stressful performance situation in front of peers developed their
confidence and made them less likely to "act out" in class as a result of
that development. I find it interesting that the teacher made the
assumption that all of that machismo was based upon fear and an inability
to accomplish focus on a long term task as well as a problem of perceptual
sufficiency. As Norman Mailer has pointed out on various occasions.
These children have been trained from birth to think in ten minute
segments in an intense visual perceptual mode and then have a commercial.
Concentrating holistically for 45 minutes in a class must be hell.

My ten minutes are up:

It is a pleasure to be back amongst you folks.
I'm trying to deal with the possibility of success
in the midst of a very trying societal work
environment. Many kinds of things to discuss.
My Intro is still on the list and I will add to
it. I have enjoyed reading your work over these
months as I have lurked at the LO web site.


Ray Evans Harrell
artistic director
Magic Circle Chamber Opera of New York


ray evans harrell <>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>