That’s my Juilliard course on the future of classical music, which I teach every spring, on Wednesdays. You can go to the class webpage, and see the full schedule, as well as all the assignments. Which, if you’re interested, or curious, you can do yourself. All the reading and listening can be done online.
And the first week of class, I couldn’t get into the city at all. But that led to something good. Normally I spend part of the first class meeting asking the students why they’re taking the course. It’s a good way to get discussion going, and — maybe best of all — to start to get to know the smart, motivated, interesting people I’m going to be working with for the next few months.
So since I couldn’t do that in person, I asked the students to email me. And that led to deeper discussions — and, for me, a better sense of who the students are — than we might have had if the class had gone on as scheduled. The next week, when we met in the flesh for the first time, I thought there was a much happier sense of anticipation (certainly for me, and, I’m going to take a leap and say, for the students, too) than there would have been if we’d had the class the previous week.
We had a good class yesterday. Two guests were there. One was a jazz student at Juilliard, who wants to audit the course. He’s welcome, of course. And the other was my friend Eric Edberg, a cellist who teaches at DePauw University, and who’s in NY this spring on sabbatical. And whose blog is wonderfully rewarding to read. And very much in tune with what I write here.
Each week, beyond everything that’s in the course curriculum, I plan to pose something for all of us to discuss. This week it grew out of a discussion we’d had last week, on musicians wearing formal dress when they play classical music. We’d discussed the pros (it makes classical music special, can help musicians focus on playing) and the cons (classical music seems odd and archaic).
So I tried to take that one step further, by asking whether — if musicians are going to wear formal dress — the entire concert should be more formal, with a sense of awe and ritual, and (for sure) no orchestra players sitting onstage at the start, as they normally do in the US, talking and practicing their parts. Which then leads to many other questions — which music, for instance, would a truly formal concert be right for? Surely not a Rossini overture!
Or would the contrast between high formality and wacky Rossini be weird enough to be fun?
I’ve taught a shorter version of this course at Eastman, and would be happy to do it elsewhere. It could even be adapted for a short visit — I could, for instance, teach it in a week, or even in three days.