Sunday, August 11, 2013

We need music to survive

Karl Paulnack
Music Division
The Boston Conservatory

Karl Paulnack is a pianist and director of the music division at the Boston Conservatory. This essay is adapted from a welcome speech he gave to incoming freshman. It was originally published in the 7 June 2009 issue of The Christian Science Monitor, p. 28.

Though a few years old, this essay by Karl Paulnack of the Boston Conservatory conveys the deeply important role music plays in our society.

One of my parents’ deepest fears, I suspect, is that society would not value me as a musician. I remember my mother’s reaction when I announced my decision to study music instead of medicine: “You’re wasting your SAT scores!” My parents loved music, but at the time they were unclear about its value.

The confusion is understandable: We put music in the “arts & entertainment” section of the newspaper. But music often has little to do with entertainment. Quite the opposite.

The ancient Greeks had a fascinating way of articulating how music works. In their quadrivium—geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and music—astronomy and music are two sides of the same coin. Astronomy describes relationships between observable, external, permanent objects.

Music illuminates relationships between invisible, internal, transient objects. I imagine us having internal planets, constellations of complicated thoughts and feelings. Music finds the invisible pieces inside our hearts and souls and helps describe the position of things inside us, like a telescope that looks in rather than out.

In June 1940, French composer Olivier Messiaen was captured by the Germans and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. There, he finished a quartet for piano, cello, violin, and clarinet, and performed it, with three other imprisoned musicians, for the inmates and guards of that camp. The piece (“Quartet for the End of Time”) is arguably one of the greatest successes in the history of music.

Friday, August 9, 2013

NEA FAC Vice-Chair Jessica Fitzwater Completes Training, Considers Political Bid

Jessica Fitzwater was part of the first classof Emerge 
Maryland, a program that trains Democratic women to 
run for office.
by Bethany Rodgers News-Post Staff
from the Fredrick News Post

Jessica Fitzwater says she loves working with students while they're too young to care what people think.

The Oakdale Elementary School music teacher said the onset of adult self-consciousness discourages many people from putting themselves out onstage. But when children are little, they are risk-takers, she said.

If teachers can "catch them when they sing their heart out or dance their heart out," there's a chance that they will hang on to that fearlessness as they grow up, she said.

Fitzwater, 29, said her experience as a performer — playing the violin in the Frederick Symphony Orchestra and taking the stage with Equinox Dance Company — has made her someone unafraid to take a public stand.

Her willingness to step forward could move her from the orchestra hall to Winchester Hall; Fitzwater says she's "strongly considering" running for the District 4 seat on the county council in 2014.

Fitzwater has already started laying the foundation for a future in the public eye. Earlier this year, she graduated from the first class of Emerge Maryland, a program that prepares Democratic women to hold elected office or another leadership position.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

92 Schools Lose Art Positions; 54 Schools Cut Music Postions; 58 Cute PE and 40 Fire Librarians

By John Byrne
Clout Street
3:04 p.m. CDT, August 6, 2013

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday defended the choices he has made on the Chicago Public Schools budget, but did not directly address reports that neighborhood schools will face deeper cuts during the coming year than charters or other kinds of schools.

CPS estimated classroom cuts in the upcoming budget to be about $68 million. But the Tribune found that the cuts to district-run neighborhood schools is more than $100 million for instruction and operations. CPS came up with its lower figure by including budget increases at charter and contract schools that in many cases saw enrollment rise and seats added.

Asked about the differences Tuesday, Emanuel initially laid the blame with Springfield's failure to deal with the school district's unfunded pension obligations. "Look, we have a challenge. That challenge is pensions," Emanuel said.

The mayor also pointed out two charter schools were shut down recently for academic shortcomings, saying that's "never been done before, because they failed academically."

And though Raise Your Hand, a parent group critical of the school district, said the new budget has forced 92 schools to cut art positions, 54 to cut music teachers, 58 to cut physical education positions and 40 to fire librarians, Emanuel sought to focus Tuesday on his push to increase full-day kindergarten and the longer school day. "That's what we're going to be doing throughout the city and all our schools," he said.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Arts Funding Alert--Act Now!

40! That’s how many years that federal support for the arts and humanities would be set back as a result of the devastating cuts in the FY 2014 Interior Appropriations bill currently moving through the House.

This FY 2014 funding bill would cut the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities by 49 percent, leaving them each with only a $75 million budget. This budget reduction would represent the biggest cut in the history of these agencies, even worse than the cuts experienced during the Culture Wars of the 1990s. The last time the NEA’s budget was this low was in 1974.

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Last week, we reported the cuts made in Subcommittee and this week, the House Full Appropriations Committee maintained the cuts in the bill. Yesterday, Ranking Democrat of the Committee Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Rep. David Price (D-NC) offered an amendment in committee to restore the NEA cuts, but it was rejected along party line votes.

Grant will allow students to sample working with professional artists

by Maggie Neil / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Principal Ken Lockette wants the walls of Avonworth High School to be alive and vibrant -- not drab and institutional.

He also wants his students to know what it's like to work in the professional world and to prepare them for an increasingly competitive environment.

Thanks to a $10,000 grant from The Sprout Fund's Hive Fund for Connected Learning, the high school in Ohio Township is hoping to fulfill Mr. Lockette's visions through the Avonworth Pittsburgh Galleries Project.

Read more:

The plan is to connect 30 to 50 high school students with five arts institutions in the Pittsburgh region: The Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh Glass Center and Toonseum of Pittsburgh.