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Thomas J. West Music

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Frank Battisti TMEA 2001

Frank Battisti Lecture "If Only I Had Less Rehearsal Time" TMEA 2001


There is one thing that is crystal clear to me on this day, June 10th, 2010 - public school music education in the United States is at a crossroads. We have two choices: innovate, or die. As 250,000 teaching positions are estimated to be cut nation-wide across all academic subjects, music and the arts will continue to be marginalized. Why? Quite simple. The vast majority of public school music programs in the country serve 10% or less of the student body with school performing ensembles (band, choir, orchestra) and a smattering of music appreciation courses. Among that 10%, less than half of the students continue playing their instrument or singing in a vocal group past the end of high school or their undergraduate degree. What's wrong with this picture?

Music Educators are performing themselves right out of a job.

After this school year, I am firmly convinced that the future of Music Education in American Public Schools is the nurturing of a personal connection to music through composition and creativity. People become life-long lovers of music with a deep sense of understanding and appreciation when they know and understand how music works from the inside-out. There is no better way to meld all that music is in terms of construction, performance, and aesthetics than through the study of music composition.

Most people consider composers to be eccentric, skilled, and blessed with natural talent. The truth is that even a beginning student on a musical instrument can be a composer, and that composition can grow with a music student throughout their development as a performer. The two quite literally go hand-in-hand. You do not have to be a commercial success to be a fantastic composer.

The internet and social media have given us an entire new set of tools to teach music composition and performance. But even without them, music education HAS to make learning music relevant to today's youth and stop creating an "in-bred" school band/choir/orchestra program that serves to simply feed itself with the children of former members.

Making Music Education Relevant - Frank Battisti


This series of audios (hosted on You Tube) are a recording of Frank Battisti's lecture at the Texas Music Educators Association Conference in 2001. It was brought to my attention by Craig Cortello in a blog post earlier today. It absolutely blows my mind that this kind of information was being promoted nine years ago, and not a single dent in music education as a profession has resulted from it.

During this lecture, Mr. Battisti mentions the American Composers Forum, which I have never heard of.

It's time for music education as a profession to put aside being a "band director" or "choir director" and start being a "music teacher" who uses a band, choir, orchestra, or electronic music as the medium by which their students learn to create, perform, explore and love music for all the wonder that it is. I highly encourage you to listen to all eight parts of this lecture in order. The time has come for the vision Mr. Battisti describes to take shape. Please share these recordings far and wide.

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