Beautiful Music

"'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' – that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know, " said John Keats in 1819 in his poem Ode on a Grecian Urn.

Beautiful music and beautiful art

For our music students, truth and beauty are intertwined.

If they are taking lessons voluntarily, it is because they wish to MAKE BEAUTY.  

And that is why WE TEACHERS do music, and teach music.

We do music because music is, in some way to us, BEAUTIFUL.

But a trend of increasing UGLINESS...

is being thrust upon our children and students.

In a Wall Street Journal article called "Darkness Too Visible", Meghan Cox Gurdon stirred up a hornet's nest by taking book publishers to task for an ever-increasing number of ugly and uglier books, using relevance as an excuse to feed shock and swill to young readers.

She discussed "the increasingly dark current that runs through books classified as YA, for Young Adult—books aimed at readers between 12 and 18 years of age—a subset that has, in the four decades since Young Adult became a distinct category in fiction, become increasingly lurid, grotesque, profane, sexual, and ugly... No family," she says, "is obliged to acquiesce when publishers use the vehicle of fundamental free-expression principles to try to bulldoze coarseness or misery into their children's lives." *

Her original article can be found at The WSJ, and a second article describing the backlash and resentment against her first article can be found in a July 2013 article of Imprimus called The Case for Good Taste in Children's Books.  

I agree with Ms. Gurdon. We are shaping the tastes of young children with the choices of reading and even musical material we offer them.  Piano method music tends to be a pretty safe field for young ones! However, the vocal music young singers and guitar players wish to do are frequently age-inappropriate.  They have been sexualized too young.  

A desire to fortify our children and students against the harshness of life may impel us to feed them a diet of nails and scorpions, so to speak, to steel them against the horrors which they may eventually encounter.  Particulary in the world in which we live, where, as Haldir says (in "The Fellowship of the Ring") of the growing darkness of the times, 

"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater."

They do need to be warned and instructed... but they also need to know that "there lies the dearest freshness deep down things", as poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote in "God's Grandeur":

And for all this, nature is never spent;

  There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; 

And though the last lights off the black West went

  Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

  World broods with warm breast and with

ah!  bright wings.

Childhood should be a time of wonder, and beauty.  Help your students find music that is more than relevant, music that is timeless and BEAUTIFUL.

*The Case for Good Taste in Children's Books, Imprimis July 2013




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