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Home School Clarinet Program

Social/Philosophical Considerations

Generally, I am not an issue-oriented teacher. I believe that religious, sexual and political education should be under the complete control of an individual's parents. I have always recoiled at the smell of indoctrination in my own education, and do not want to impose it on you. However, there are value lessons to be learned and value judgements to be made in the world of music making. This page is where I declare what mine are, so that you can know up front, and question me if you need to.

1.  The performing arts make great demands of the artists, and can make their lives very self-centered as they work hard to hone their talents. Talents are the most rewarding, however, when they are used to help others. Nothing that I dispense in this course is a trade secret. Students should use their knowledge and skills wherever possible to help others develop their own talents.

2.  The performing arts are saturated with competition at all levels, and players cannot afford to shrink from it. Rivalries are healthy to a point, and must be prevented from turning into enmity. Students must be taught to take the intiative in turning rivalries into productive friendships. If accomplishment and fulfillment in your field are important to you, your closest rival is generally your best friend. Together, you can reach heights that neither of you could reach alone.

3.  Making music on band instruments is a group experience, and group considerations must take priority over individual ones. If a group wants an audience to play for, the needs of that audience have to take priority. This may put musicians face to face with music that they don't care for, don't agree with, or that is just plain bad. Our job is to serve the needs of the audience. If we are the center of attention, we do our best to deliver. If we are providing a background for something else, we provide the best background that we can without calling attention away from what we are accompanying. Many top jazz and classical musicians make the lion's share of their living doing studio work. Lush string orchestra sounds might be used to express the most sublime of human thoughts, or to convey the comfort that your pet feels with the latest brand of flea collar. All applications of our art require our respect and earnest efforts.

4.  Music is a traditional avenue for conveying religious, social, philosophical and political messages to the world. Much home schooling takes place today so that parents can educate their children in their own traditions and/or prevent their children from being educated in undesired traditions. My classes are music classes and not open forums on religion, philosophy or politics. Those who wish to sway the opnions and beliefs of others can best open minds by earning the respect of their peers. Accomplishment, selflessness, and respect for others are good areas in which to establish a ground for future dialogue. In class, however, I want music to be the subject matter.

5.  Music is neither an academic necessity, nor a high-demand career field. For most people, it is an activity for personal enjoyment and enrichment. It is an avocation--an absorbing hobby with infinite possibilities. Some of us are lucky enought to make it our career, but it's never just a job. Competition may be the stick that drives us, but curiosity is the carrot that draws us. While it is necessary for students to complete their coursework, it's also vital that they explore their own curiosity. The most important goal of this course is to prepare them to do exactly that.

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