Mastery, Not “Creativity,” Should Come First in Arts Education

At issue, of course, is the fact that the purpose of the traditional music education to prepare students to participate and collaborate in “the performance and analysis of European classical repertory” at its highest levels. The “broader reality” to which they subscribe is reflected in the modern tendency to see that emphasis as not only a slight to those who will fail to achieve those ends, but as a real offense to those who, like the Task Force on the Undergraduate Music Major, reject that purpose and the primacy of the European classical canon itself.

Political Activism Comes to the American Conservatory

As we replace, for the sake of politics or expediency, the teachers who quietly loved and maintained the classical music tradition with those who have made a career of loudly condemning or refuting it, the discipline will be chipped away from the inside by a myriad of tiny careerists and ideologues happy to attack or cheapen the long and living tradition of Western classical music for the sake of a petty promotion or a hearty pat on the back.

The Existential Crisis of the American Music School

Since at least the 1920s, America has done a fine job of nurturing its budding classical musicians within a large and well-funded network of conservatories that function either as independent institutions or else as colleges within larger universities. The grand venture of transplanting the pinnacle of European artistic achievement into the fertile soil of the New World has been a spectacular success. So can we say, then, that all is well in the world of higher music education on this side of the pond? Perhaps surprisingly, almost everyone you ask today will answer that question with a “no,” for all the wrong reasons.