Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday Miscellanea

This explains everything, doesn't it? New Concerns Arise About Mental Health Of College Students
Dr. Gene Beresin, a psychiatrist and Executive Director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital, says 50% to 60% of college students have a psychiatric disorder.
“What I’m including in that is the use of substances, anxiety, depression, problems with relationships, break-ups, academic problems, learning disabilities, attentional problems,” says Dr. Beresin. “If you add them all up 50% doesn’t seem that high.”
Uh-huh. I think all my BS detectors just went off! Why is it that just about everything emanating from our so-called intellectual elite is complete crap? First of all, the doctor is pathetically innumerate as is revealed in this paragraph:
Dr. Beresin says the suicide rate in college in astronomical. “A college student kills himself every day,” he says.
Let's do the math: if a college student kills themselves every day then that would come to 365 suicides a year. There are approximately 20.5 million college students in the US so that means that the rate of suicides, according to Dr. Beresin, is fewer than 2/1000ths of a percent. If by astronomical you mean "astronomically small" then, yes. But the doctor's numbers are likely wrong. The percentage for all groups is 0.126% with the highest rates found among middle-aged adult males. Numbers here.

Now when I was an undergraduate if some odd behaviour turned up the response was usually to ignore it or say "sounds like a personal problem" and then ignore it. I suspect that the more you acknowledge things like anxiety, depression and so on, the more you encourage them. Kind of like why San Francisco can't seem to figure out that the more services they provide for homeless people, the worse the problem gets. They don't actually teach logic any more do they?

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Now this is what I'm talkin' about: Portland Public Schools 'rap music' ban sparks allegations of racism. Dude, it's not racism! What about Eminem? They also ban religious radio stations and talk shows. So it is either a blatant attempt to control the political freedom of the students, or a weak attempt to instil some aesthetic discipline. They got some pushback and responded with this:
"We regret the way this was communicated. Our intent is to limit student exposure to religious teachings, profanity and violent lyrics," said Portland Public Schools spokeswoman Courtney Westling. "The transportation department will be revising its guidance to bus drivers shortly to be more inclusive of different genres of music."
Nah, ya got it all wrong! What you want is less jazz and more Rush Limbaugh! Oops, forget I said that...

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The Wall Street Journal has a major piece on streaming music, which has finally taken off. It seems to be working very well for the big acts and the casual listener. Depressing, isn't it?
Music executives say streaming is a way to make money off casual music listeners again, with potentially huge payoffs. A few years ago nonfans might have turned on the radio to hear a talked-about Drake song. Now they’re likely to stream, which generates royalties. “There are probably people who are streaming Drake who would never have bought an album,” says Dave Bakula, senior analyst at Nielsen.

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Slate explains that Hollywood needs to quit using the same classical pieces over and over. The video is interesting to watch because it points out just how many different films the same piece of music has been used in.

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Usually when I read something over at Slipped Disc I find myself having sympathy with one side or the other--a lot of posts spark a fierce debate--but after looking at this one and starting to read the comments I had the unusual sentiment of quite disliking the tenor of the original post AND nearly every comment on it pro, con or otherwise! This is a first.

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There's a lot of good basic wisdom in this piece in the Wall Street Journal by pianist Byron Janis.
Many things that I was taught I use in my own teaching. I acquired this particular insight from the legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz, with whom I worked in the 1940s: “Something is not right,” he would say. “Please think about it, then work on it. Bring it to me next week.” It put the responsibility squarely into my hands. At first, it was a difficult discipline, but how very much it helped me to grow and gain confidence. It’s important that talented students try to work out certain problems by themselves. Of course, the more talented the student, the more effective the results of that advice. This tells us something else about teaching—that it is a two-way street.
In my own teaching, I’ve taken Horowitz’s idea one step further. I end nearly every lesson saying, “If any of my interpretive ideas don’t feel right, please disregard them.”
During the course of my instruction Horowitz also made a very important point. “You want to be a first Janis—not a second Horowitz.” To that end, he never played for me during a lesson. But outside of lessons he would sometimes play for me, and during those incredible evenings in his home, hearing that great artistry at its very best, it was almost impossible not to have it influence me. I was fortunate that my gift for music was strong enough to survive, but it took me several years to become a “first Janis.” After my Carnegie Hall debut in 1948, he said to me: “You must now go on your own. You will make mistakes, but they’ll be your mistakes.”
One of my best recollections from my teaching years was when a very fine musician joined us for an ensemble piece. I asked him to take the lead in the rehearsal and was delighted when my students spoke up the first time he signaled a massive ritardando, asking him "what's the reason for doing that there?" He looked rather nonplussed as it seems he wasn't used to students having and expressing interpretive ideas!

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This past Monday was the [Update: 50th anniversary of the] last official public concert by the Beatles in Candlestick Park in San Francisco. A few years later they dragged their gear up to the roof of their London office building and played a few tunes, but the bobbies came by and told them they had to stop. Interesting comment by Ron Howard who is doing a documentary about the Beatles' tours:
Out of necessity, they’re inventing the stadium concert tour. It was because the police kept saying, 'If you play a place that holds 8,000 people, it means we’re going to have 38,000 people outside. You’ve got to play in bigger places.' So they sort of invented the arena tour before technology could support it, really."
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This is another depressing item: New York Times Axes Local Arts Coverage to Free Up Resources for New 'Gender Editor'
“[Executive Editor] Dean Baquet and I have decided that the resources and energy currently devoted to these local pages could be better directed elsewhere,” Jamieson wrote, as he told the longtime writers that their services were no longer needed.
One area where the paper has decided to devote these resources and energy is in the hiring of a “gender editor” to lead a new “cross-platform, global coverage vertical on the topic of gender and identity.”
The 21st century is turning out rather differently than I had expected...

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Let's end with the BBC Young Musician winner Sheku Kanneh-Mason playing the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1:


The Guardian has a nice piece up on the seventeen-year old competition winner. He is quoted on the topic of elitism:
“Classical music is not elitist. The music itself is accessible to everyone. The real problem is the fact that it’s expensive and there is so little help from councils and the government.”
You bet. There is a nice anecdote about the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1. The great Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich was a friend of Shostakovich's and was very keen to have him write a cello concerto, but Shostakovich's wife kept telling him, "don't even mention it--if you do, he won't write one!" Then, finally, one day Shostakovich called Rostropovich up and said "come on over, I have a concerto for you." Four days later Rostropovich came back with his accompanist to play the piece for Shostakovich. When Shostakovich said "here, let me get you a music stand" Rostropovich replied, "no need, I have it memorized." In four days! He later said it was his proudest moment as a performer.

4 comments:

Marc Puckett said...

Portland, Portland, 'the whitest major city in the US'. This ban must be directed at the drivers (as I guess the article says) who play the bus radio for the delight and edification of the students? (I can't see how it can be legal if the district are attempting to regulate what music students can listen to via their 'personal listening devices'). Gosh. Not a word about including classical music among the 'different genres'-- discrimination! blatant exclusionary policy! Pathetic, really, that the education bureaucrats are fussing about this-- there was a Facebook meme going around the other day viz. 'a century year ago, high school students were taught Latin and Greek, today university students have to study remedial English'-- when they ought to be concerning themselves with actually educating the poor little monsters. Gosh.

I loved that the Slate woman narrating the classical music in film/television clip asserted that 'everyone knows the Chopin Nocturnes', ha. Sure, sure. (You could write a post about less well known composed music for films-- my own favorites being Zbigniew Preisner's, for Kieslowski's Dekalog and Per Norgaard's for Babette's Feast.)

Marc Puckett said...

I'm not understanding the Ron Howard 'Beatles invented the arena concert before the technology could support it' comment-- what 'supporting technology' was then unavailable? (You might want to fix that paragraph's first sentence, ha.)

Bryan Townsend said...

Yes, this is directed at the drivers and what they tune to on the bus radio. Gosh, when I rode a school bus I don't recall that the driver even bothered turning the radio on. The idea of there being school board policy crafted to fulfill the necessary strictures of "diversity" is, well, extremely odd.

Film music seems to be one of my blind spots, alas.

Yes, missing phrase in the first sentence about the Beatles' concert, thanks Marc. This was the 50th anniversary of it, of course. The technology involved was not so much things like lighting or other stage logistics (even though they are far superior now) but rather the sound amplification! If I recall correctly, the Vox people had specifically designed a new much more powerful 100-watt guitar amp for them. But since they were playing for tens of thousands of screaming fans, it was still completely inadequate. Wikipedia writes regarding their 1965 Shea Stadium concert:

"The deafening level of crowd noise, coupled with the distance between the band and the audience, meant that nobody in the stadium could hear much of anything. Vox had specially designed 100-watt amplifiers for this tour; however, it was still not anywhere near loud enough, so the Beatles used the house amplification system. Lennon described the noise as 'wild' and also twice as deafening when the Beatles performed. On-stage 'fold-back' speakers were not in common use in 1965, rendering the Beatles' playing inaudible to each other, forcing them to just play through a list of songs nervously, not knowing what kind of sound was being produced, or whether they were playing in unison."

Jives said...

great miscellanea this week, thanks!