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March 09, 1965 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1965-03-09

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oEw Alriigan Balu
Seventy-Fifth Year

The Force of Public Music Education

Where Opinions Are Pree, 420 MAYNARD ST., ANN ARBO . Micx.
Truth Will Preval

News PyoNE: 764-0552

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.

The Language Requirement:
Is It Worth It?

HE MOST ONEROUS distribution re-
quirement is that which forces the
student to take four semesters of a for-
eign language.
The usual justifications for it are that
language instruction:
-Is useful for the increasing number
of students traveling abroad;
-Aids in understanding English;
-Is required for most master's and
doctoral degrees; and
-Brings students into contact with
another culture.
The only trouble with these j ustifica-
tions is that compulsive language in-
struction is not worth its cost, A stu-
dent may have to take up to 13 per cent
of the hours required for graduation in
a field which is totally uninteresting to
him. This percentage is even higher if
the student does extremely poorly in a
course and has to repeat it. This in turn
makes some of the students who are
least interested in a foreign language
spend the most time studying it on an
introductory level.
The value of a foreign language as a
means of communication is virtually nil
to a vast majority of those taking it.
Out of all the students taking a lan-
guage, how many will be traveling abroad
as a student or soon enough after grad-
uating so that they will still recall the
language they studied? How many of
these will have mastered the language
well enough to make it useful to them?
And how many of those would not take
a foreign language if the requirement
were abolished?
As an aid to understanding the gram-
matical structure of English, foreign lan-
guage instruction is only repeating what
should have been learned in high school.
For the student who failed to learn Eng-
lish grammar well, further English train-
ing in college would be more meaningful
than taking a foreign language.
two foreign languages is required for
most graduate degrees, however the abil-
ity to read a language is considered to
be one of the easiest aspects to learn. A

graduate student does not have to cope
with the most difficult parts of language
learning-the abilities to write and speak
a language.
Furthermore, the fact that a reading
knowledge of a foreign language is re-
quired for a graduate degree is no rea-
son that it has to be taken at the under-
graduate level. Many students do not go
to graduate school. Even if it were felt
that undergraduate preparation were
necessary, there is still no reason for re-
quiring four semesters of instruction. The
present graduate reading courses in a
foreign language require only two semes-
ters to complete and at the same time
meet only three times a week. The intro-
ductory courses require four sessions.
taking a foreign language is again
While a student is now spending his
first eight hours in a foreign language
memorizing sentences, grammar and sim-
ilar aspects of the new language, he could
be in courses dealing with anything from
Greek drama to Chinese literature. Cer-
tainly a student comes into contact with
a culture more through foreign language
courses in translation than through mem-
orizing sentences.
In the second semester of a foreign
language there is admittedly more con-
tact with literature, but still little ef-
fort can be devoted to appreciation of
the literature or culture as a whole be-
cause so much attention must be paid
to vocabulary and understanding. Con-
sequently any quantitative cultural ex-
posure through language instruction is
highly improbable.
THE PURPOSE of the language require-
ment might be better served if the re-
quirement were modified to give students
a choice between taking a course in for-
eign literature in translation and taking
the introductory language courses. Then
students who did not do well in foreign
languages could obtain the most impor-
tant benefits of studying them without
spending four unprofitable semesters de-
veloping an intense dislike for the lan-
guage itself, the distribution requirement,
or both.

MUSIC CHANGES with society,
Music also reflects transfor-
mations that have already taken
place in society during preceding
generations. Such changes in mu-
sic are manifest in its changing
forms and evolving functions with-
in the human community.
To get at this, music must first
be identified as communication
and as an art of experience. It
is self-contained to the extent
that you must do it to understand
it. In other words, you need to
perform it, compose it, or recreate
it in the listening experience to
realize it. You cannot read about
music, or listen to talk about mu-
sic and thereby comprehend it.
It must be experienced of and
for itself.
Interestingly enough, this is not
a literal process to the extent that
the understanding of language as
we use it in the conduct of our
daily lives is literal. It is possible
for a person who is unsophisticat-
ed in the theory and the apparatus
of making music, to grasp the
reality of Beethoven's "Eroica"
better than a person trained in
harmony and form. It is of^course
also possible for a man who did
not graduate from high school to
understand the substance of the
Beatitudes better than anotier
man who has his PhD. This prob-
ably happens less often with ex-
pressions of language than ith
expressions of music, but I v;ou:d
be hard pressed to prove it. I mdte
the point merely for the :m)rpose
of indicating that musical expri-s-
sion involves the human mechar-
ism in a different way than dis-
cursive language, and that, here-
eby, music expresses different ca-
tegories of human realities.
I HASTEN to add that in the
teaching process "talking tbout"
and "writing about" help irn-
measurably in understanding '. e
purely musical process. If 4his
were not so, my efforts writing
this would be futile. But the thrust
behind all of our teaching eiforis
in music is to reach the reality
of musical sound itself in such
a way that this sound maytii-
noble and uplift. This reasoning
placed music at the capstone of
the medieval quadrivium, where it
existed not only in theory, but
in the realization of this theory
into its sounding reality through
The fact goes unquestioned t:it
music is one of the most direct

and universal methods of Human
communication. One of my favor-
ite quotations comes from Alfred
North Whitehead's book Science
and the Modern World wherein
hc says, "The science of ptire
mathematics, in its modern de-
velopments, may claim to be the
most or ginal creation of the hu-
man spirit. Another claimant for
this position is music." It is un-
derstandable that this statement
should have come from a philos-
opher and mathematician. Any
person who has concerned him-
self with esthetics, and who is
somewhat conversant both with
music and with mathematical
ideas, understands the affinity of
pure music and pure mathematics.
* * *
plify this. Academic communities
tend to spawn amateur chamber
music groups who fiddle and tootle
away with an enthusiasm and skill
that indicates more than mere
dilettantism. Frequently these am-
ateur chamber music groups are
liberally sprinkled with professors
trained in the discipline of math-
ematics. I remember an evening
at the home of a philosophy pro-
fessor when no less than four
Brandenburg Concertos and a
cavier concerto of Bach were per-
formed, one right after the other,
and not a professional musician
in sight. I was a superfluous con-
Chamber music such as this,
composed and realized i, per-
f rmance with exquisite care and
c:vility. represents a h'gh order,
in a sense the essence, of 6ophis-
t catcd musical expressivity. But
chamber music is not the only
- ehicle of performance available
for the expression of music any
more than an eighteenth century
essp~y tructure represents the
only form available for literary
expression, or an oil portrait for
painting. Music has a wonderful
way of reflecting the social mlieu
from which it springs.
Not long ago -man, at .east
Western man, tended to be closer
to nature and to the elements
than he is now. He dug ditches
rather than operated a digger. He
marcficd in battalion from camp
to battle rather than rode in
trucks or airplanes,tand he Loted
cotton bales rather than operated
a hydraulic lift. Music, with its
rhythmic impetus and melodi: up-
lift served a clearly personal func-
tion as an aid and comfort to a
workman or soldier as he went

through the ordeal of his day.
This category of aid and comfort
is less needed now. An automated
petroleum plant needs no work
song to increase its efficiency. and
a computer can itself be pro~gram-
med to compose music rather than
being in need of a marching song
to help it along its way. Music
reshapes and adapts its function
to the sociological circumstances
in which it finds itself.
IN THIS COUNTRY the uses of
music are many. Four mus cal
spheres are particularly apparent:
1) art music as abstraction, i e.
music for its own sake; 2) folk
music related to social groupings;
3) commercial music: 4) music
education in the public schools.
One asks what separates art
music from folk music? My answer
would be the theoretical apparatus
which undergirds art music. The
complexities of fugal style, the
sonata or serial technique are not
part of folk music. If a piece of
folk music through intricacies of


musical impulse be given an a:-
tistic vehicle amenable to ,*tIes
and conventions. These rules and
conventions, referred to as style,
are what makes the sounds of
Bach's music different from Cho-
pin, and Schonberg diverge from
Wagner. Professional musicians
concern themselves greatly with
this distinctions in style, whh
enhance the art of performance.
FOLK MUSIC evolves in less
tractable circumstances. It is di-
rect musical expression, far less
concerned with theory and with
niceties of style. For this reason
its appeal is indeed broader. It
entertains, but its function is far
more than entertainment. Its mes-
sage in text covers ranges in
human experience from social pro-
test to lullabies, and in instru-
ments from African drums to
Scottish bagpipes.



the music school has taught at the Uni-
versity since 1949. He is the author of the
textbook "Keyboard Harmony," and is edi-
tor of the University School of Music News-
letter. Flower won the University's Dis-
tinguished Service Award in 1955, and from
1957 until 1963 was the executive secretary
of the National Association of Schools of
Music Commission on Curricula.

performance becomes stylistically
complex, then it probably ceases
to be folk music and moves over
into the realm of art music. It
would be unusual, for example, for
a civil rights protest group to
break into the opening chorus of
Bach's "Magnificat," but "We
Shall Overcome" comes out na-
Both folk music and art music
serve entertainment functions, but
they serve them in different ways.
Art music throughout history has
been an expression of groupings
within society possessed of sophis-
tication and civility. Sufficient
time existed for its cultivation.
Whether this was leisuretime or
time contracted for by duke or
bishop is beside the point. The
social framework existed witnin.
which the artistic effort could be
expended. Under such circum-
stances it is natural that the

There can be much overlap in
function between folk and art
music. Both have enriched the
other. Art music constantly bor-
rows from folk sources and per-
formers of folk music often learn
from the practitioners of art mu-
sic. Folk music and art music both,
thus, are examples of musical ex-
perience related directly to iden-
tifiable segments of society.
Commercial music in America
can be similarly identified, but
with an important stipulation,
namely, theidollar sign as an ever-
present reality. No musician in his
right mind will be critical of the
dollar bill and its potential help-
fulness. Even Mozart said that
nothing inspired him like a com-
mission. The point here is its over-
riding influence. Commercial mu-
sicians and composers, working
in the sphere of influence of 'lisk
jockeys, TV, films, juke boxes,
even church anthem publishers,
cannot separate themselves from
what the public will buy. The "will
it sell" point of view permeates.
the entire field of commercial mu-
sic and prostitutes some of it. In
those parts of the field which are
dependent upon teen agers for
support, the vagaries of this seg-
ment of the consuming public pre-
clude any consistency which might
lead to serious art.
ON THE other hand, much
of great significance continues to
happen in commercial music.
Broadway show music is clearly
an art form. Much film and TV
music is superbly crafted art. Ra-
dio stations are showing a serious
concern for musical art. The fine
arts department of radio station
WJR presided over by the gifted
and articulate Karl Haas is an
Many commercial musicians are
becoming increasingly concerned

with artistic disciplines and not
a few composers and performers
of serious music are trying their
hands at commercial music. In the
recent past some composers work-
ed in both realms under different
names, which in itself represented
a commentary upon the separa-
tions of our musical culture. This
could not have occurred to
Mozart or Beethoven, both of
whom wrote "hit" tunes in their
day, as did Verdi and Puccini.
This practice continues today, but
there are emerging musicians who
proudly affix their names to music
in both realms, to say nothing of
the Metropolitan Opera stars who
keep turning up on variety shows.
Many of the stylistic conven-
tions of contemporary music which
have encountered audience resis-
tance in the concert hal are used
in the supporting music of films
and are accepted by film audiences
without question. Close your eyes
sometime during a crime show, a
documentary, or a psychological
drama and listen to the music. Ac-
ceptance of evolving style comes
about in strange ways.
OF ALL the fields of music in
this country it seems to me that
the public school system of music
education remains, by all odds,
potentially the most fruitful. In
the cultural diversity of America,
music education in the public
schools represents one of the cul-
turally cohesive forces that sets
up for individuals a lasting poten-
tial for self fulfillment. As a na-
tion we will need these personal
involvements more urgently as
our leisure time continues to grow.
Allusions to this are already being
made in reference to the Great
The vast accomplishments of
American public school education
are self evident. During the past
decade however, we have tended to
look at the negative rather than
the positive side of our accomp-
lishments. The value of high
school band programs has been
minimized, for example, because
of an ostensible lack of worth-
while literature. Band literature
now is unusually extensive. But
breadthbof literaturezor not, these
school band organizations across
the country exert a powerful de-
terrent to delinquency problems
currently of so much national con-
The totality of music education
in the public schools goes far
beyond bands, increasingly effec-
tive as they are and should be.
Vocal ensembles, orchestras, small-
er instrumental groupings in ele-
mentary and high schools are now
legion. These groups are increas-
ingly a part of regularized curricu-
lum and in combination serve as
an increasingly effective means of
introducing American students to
breadth and variety in musical
literature. Foundations have rec-
ognized this and are providing
support for various programs.
w g
far beyond the large urban school
systems and in one form or an-
other is a part of practically every
school system in America.
Herein exists the most potent
musical force in this country.
NEXT WEEK: Arnold M. Kuethe








The University and State Politics


THE UNIVERSITY'S high administra-
tors are a group of extremely com-
petent men. Yet even the most compe-
tent men must occasionally become crea-
tures of habit.
Unfortunately, the University's admin-
istration has gotten into one particular
habit which threatens the foundations of
the institution. This is the habit of as-
suming a naturally non-competitive atti-
tude whenever the University comes in-
to conflict with other -state agencies, be
4t the Legislature or the State Board of
Take, for example, University President
Harlan Hatcher's statement to the board
of education at its Flint hearing last
Wednesday. The statement, despite its
logic and clarity, is far from anything
resembling an aggressive declaration of
the University's position on the Flint
ANOTHER EXAMPLE is the Universi-.
ty's traditional tail-between-the-legs
policy toward the Legislature regarding
the out-of-state student question. When
University Executive Vice-President Mar-
vin L. Niehuss confirmed that the ratio
would decline again this fall, he could
only report that he and other adminis-
trators were "becoming concerned" about
the matter, and that another decline
would begin to worry him.
Certainly no one could say that there
is not two sides to both these exemplary
issues, or that University officers should
not recognize this fact. But at the same
Managing Editor Editorial Director
ANN GWIRTZMAN Personnei liire'tor
BILL BULLARD ..... Sports Editor
MCHAEL. SATTTNGER Associate Managing Editor

time, those officers must realize that their
statements and actions are not being re-
garded by a public that is as objective
as the University is trying to be.
When the University takes a stand on
its budget or on out-of-state students or
on any other major educational issue,
that stand should be defended with some
degree of determination. It is nice to
know that our policy-makers harbor
healthy degrees of objectivity, but they
must realize that their public is not an
entirely objective one, and their stands
should be strengthened accordingly.
THE BASIC DEFENSE of the policy of
objective University policy statements
is some sort of nostalgic reference to the
opinion that if the University is to retain
its position as a leader in national edu-
cation, it should not lower itself to the
bourgoise factional struggles that occu-
py the other state colleges. This opin-
ion, calling up images of robed profes-
sors instructing their students beneath a
tree, is frighteningly unrealistic.
How vague references to the decorum
due a national University can possibly
defend an administration policy which
can put this college at a disadvantage to
all others in the state is difficult to see.
It is all well and good to analyze the past
accomplishments and present ratings of
the University and say that an institu-
tion of this caliber should not stoop to the
use of "influence." Yet if this influence is
not brought to bear, and brought to bear
soon, upon the controversies in which the
University finds itself, we will soon find
ourselves with greater budget cuts, ar-
bitrary restrictions on University policy
and an out-of-state student ratio of 10
per cent. Is this the position of national
leadership desired for the University?
T-E ADMTNTTRATION. notably the

RFa .
y .

Chicago Ensemble Offers
Entertaining Evening
THE CHICAGO Little Symphony presented a sparkling program of
chamber works at Rackham Auditorium Sunday night.
The bulk of the evening's entertainment consisted of compositions
in the traditional contemporary vein. Following a charming Sinfonia
by J. C. Bach, the ensemble, led by Thor Johnson, presented works
by Klebe, Bloch, Honegger, Vaughan Williams, Fukushima and
It was refreshing to hear gems from the minor conservative
composers of the century. The unprecedented emphasis on novelty
in vogue today, along with the emphasis on historical importance,
has consigned many composers and works to complete oblivion. Not
every minor composer need perish to make way for the giants of
any age.
SOME OF Sunday night's offerings were outright anachronisms.
Hearing Honegger's "Concerto da camera," one can hardly believe it
was written in 1949. Similarly, Bloch's "Meditation and Processional"
for viola (orchestrated by Trusi) scarcely seems to be a work of the
composer's last years.
Both works are highly melodic and somewhat amorphous. Francis
Bundra, who performed the Bloch work, was a trifle effusive in his
approach. Gary Sigurdson was the elegant flutist and Don Jaeger the
accomplished English horn soloist in the Honegger concerto. Jaeger
also caught the spirit of the Bach sinfonia slow movement beautifully.
The anonymous writer of the Music Society's program notes tagged
Giseher Klebe with a mission "to weld elements of both Schoenberg
and Webern to classical concepts of form." Aside from the fact that
Schoenberg and Webern had concepts of form that were intensely
classic, Klebe's music hardly fits the description. The "Divertissments"
performed Sunday also included the tedious device of ending almost
each movement at an unexpected point.
"THE LARK ASCENDING" by Vaughn Williams is a sweet
vignette. Violin soloists could easily include it in their repretoire,
since it is technical, not terribly demanding, and requires a small
and compact orchestral accompaniment. Oscar Chausow, the Little





Population Planning Support


To the Editor:
SHOULD like to commend The
Daily for its recent coverage of
the University's efforts in regard
to the field of family and popu-
lation planning (Feb. 21 and 25?.
The feature story by Miss Linder
was most informative and well
....++ ..,. + ,o~n"+ ofa x..

munity. Continued interest on the
part of The Daily will certainly be
-Dean Myron E. Wegman
School of Public Health
Faculty Series

To the Editor:
Plant Department! It must
have taken intelligence to allow
the Diag to become "the Swamp."
But if that took intelligence, it




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