Maybe our biggest problem with teaching music in schools is the way we teach it. Hollywood thought making blockbusters would save it. Surprise! How charity auctions take advantage of artists. The internet is changing what we value in the world. And the wonder of Bill T. Jones…
- Music Teacher: We should change the way we teach music in schools Currently we teach it based on classical music principles of notation and performance and history. But is that really how people hear or use music today? Shouldn’t the tools of music we teach reflect how somebody might use them in contemporary culture? “I would like to suggest here that perhaps the perfect example of the skill set required of a reenvisioned music teacher can be seen in the life of a music producer. These professionals are part musician, part technician, part guidance counselor and part magician for the artists that they work with.
- Hollywood Movies Are Creatively Bankrupt (And Now The Box Office Isn’t Working) The most interesting work is on TV these days, and the movie industry has collapsed into endless blockbuster sequels that have built-in audiences. These franchise sequels were thought to be immune from critics and distractions of the rest of the contemporary world. Maybe now, though, not so much. “What’s really happening? How did Hollywood become overrun with sequels, and why does it suddenly seems as if nobody wants to see them? The short answer is that the movie industry has over-learned the lesson that sequels perform well at the box office and has tried to sequelize every marginally successful movie. The deeper answer is that, on top of long-term structural declines in movie attendance, Hollywood is losing its grip on young people.”
- How Charity Auctions Take Advantage of Artists: Seems like a good idea, right? Charity fundraising auctions ask artists to contribute their work, and bidders will buy it with proceeds going to the organization. But some artists are inundated with requests to donate their work. And often the work doesn’t sell for much in front of audiences that might not perceive its real value. The seismographic range of institutions, causes, and charities staging sales creates a constant barrage for artists. “It takes an amazing amount of, for lack of a better word, administrative time. It’s very hard to keep it all going.” Artist Marilyn Minter said she receives requests for donations every week. Rob Pruitt fields about 20 solicitations a year.
- The Internet Is Making Us Smarter/Dumber/More Distracted/Focused: Virginia Heffernan reflects on how the web is shaping our aesthetics. “Whether or not we admit it, the internet and its artifacts are not just like their cultural precedents. They’re not even a rough translation — or a strong misreading — of those precedents.” Meanwhile, Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the internet, believes the net has become toxic and needs to be reinvented: “It controls what people see, creates mechanisms for how people interact. It’s been great, but spying, blocking sites, repurposing people’s content, taking you to the wrong websites – that completely undermines the spirit of helping people create.” Recent research suggests that the internet has fueled constant distraction, and that our brains perceive distraction as a threat. “This new research finds that an unexpected event also appears to clear out what you were thinking. This function of the brain served an important role when humans could be confronted with danger and needed a fight or flight response, but today it has negative consequences.”
- The Wonder That Is Bill T. Jones: “Arguably the most written-about figure in the dance world of the last quarter century, Jones is inarguably the most broadly laureled, with a National Medal of Arts and a Kennedy Center Honor and Tony Awards and a Dorothy & Lillian Gish Prize and a MacArthur Fellowship and, without hyperbole, scores more.” He’s not just any 64-year-old. Bill T. Jones. is making some of the most personal work of his career: “It occurred to me, watching Jones move, that, like all great attempts at artistic expression, his art manages to model compassion for the spectator — to make us feel what it’s like to be dealing with an intense feeling not our own, but one that becomes ours to deal with. When we add in the way in which Jones’s mind and body are changing, the dances themselves take on a new sort of vulnerability, a new riskiness far from the formalism of the ’70s.”