Introduction

How does the saying go? “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.

What about those who can’t teach? I guess they write.

Why I am starting this blog. I love music. I cant stop thinking about music throughout the day. Especially music for large ensembles: orchestras, bands, and choirs. The genres include baroque, classical, romantic, modern, minimalist, swing, bebop, hard bop, cool jazz, funk, contemporary jazz, and some rock music. If it is artful.

In another post I’d like to share what criteria I look for in music in order to consider it good music. I recognize, of course, that people have different preferences in music and that all are valid. There is a whole research field out there on musical preference and why people like music. I want to look more into that.

Another reason. I have two music degrees and I work for Office Depot. No one I know thinks this is right, including myself. Or, if they think it is right, they think it is only for now, and that God is working in me and developing my identity in Him. My testimony includes how, at least at an unconscious level, I staked my worth in my achievement in music. I decided to pursue music because if I couldn’t get my peers in school to like me, at least they would respect me and my talent. When I learned that I would neither perform nor teach, I was devastated. I will be sure to write about my musical experiences, including how they came to a screeching halt, in a future post.

While music is not the thing that determines my worth, it is still a large part of me. I’ve tried to suppress it over the last three years because I cared too much about it. But I can’t. Time for some cliches: I can’t keep it inside! I can’t hide it in a bushel basket! This little light of mine, I’ve gotta let it shine! Carpe Diem! Seize the day! You only have one life to live, so live it to the fullest! There is no time like the present!

In other words, I feel compelled to share my love of music. I want to express what it means to me personally as well as the emotional, psychological, spiritual, educational, and social value it possesses. I want to advocate for music, especially the symphony orchestra and the programs that make them possible. I want to break down the barriers that people have to experiencing music the way I and many others have. As an educator, my philosophy is to develop in students a life-long participation and appreciation of music. While I am not confident school programs do this with the distractions of contests, chair placements, and football games, I do want to support these programs. I want to see schools take a holistic approach, making music a relevant part of all areas of education, not just performing arts. English literature, history, religion, philosophy, science, and even math are not separate subjects from music. Perhaps one day my writing could support my philosophy of education in school programs.

For now, the goal is to write about music and see if I can sustain it over time. I need to find out if this is a form of musical expression that suits me. I need to see if I can find my writer’s voice and develop my own style. I need to know if what I have to contribute is worthwhile. Actually, I’m not sure if I care about that right now. I want to write about it even if no one cares.

My audience may include my wife, my mother, father, sister, brothers-in-law, and closest friends. If none of you read this, that’s ok. I’m happy to hear your feedback, but this will be an experimental space. I may ramble on and on. I may go off on bunny trails, my thoughts may be incoherent, and things may be poorly organized. I am a beginner, after all.

Subjects will include what I have discussed above, but mainly I want to write about my favorite pieces of music. Most of these will be music written for orchestra, choir, and band. Most of them will be in the romantic era of Western Music, though I have some modern works and tunes by jazz and rock artists I’d like to discuss as well.

In truth, if I can prove that I can sustain a lifestyle of writing, I’d like to be a music critic. Perhaps a musicologist. While I haven’t researched exactly what those things are, I think a music critic is someone who writes critically about music. Ok, probably more explanation is needed than that. In my understanding, music critics write reviews about concerts, ensembles, new works. They also write biographies or blog about the latest trends in music. They do research, they judge contests, and they probably do their fair share of teaching. They are historians, but also futurists. They dream of how music can play a role in our changing society and give educators ideas on the function of music.

Maybe Musicologist is the correct term, though I don’t like the negative connotation associated with that title. Musicologists seem like dry, boring, bookworms who are only interested in their own research and high-minded academics. They seem to find everything that is wrong with music and reduce it into something less than valuable. In short, I don’t enjoy the way they express themselves. Perhaps they feel a burden to prove themselves to “those who know” about music. I feel the opposite burden: I must prove myself to “those who don’t know.” Only if I want to get paid, anyway!

I have an idea of how I can get started on this exploration of musical writing, but it will have to wait until the next post.

Thanks for reading.

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5 thoughts on “Introduction

  1. hooray! it makes me so happy you decided to do this. i can’t wait to hear all your thoughts about music, specific pieces of music, and how you’re interacting with it. i’m happy you’re giving voice to this pure and lively passion.

  2. i am so happy you decided to do this blog! you are my mentor for all things musical and i can’t wait to hear what you have to say in this space. i’m also happy that you are giving voice to this pure and holy passion you’ve had in your heart for years and years. hooray!

  3. Wow, Justin! I really enjoyed reading this just now. You have a lot to say in my opinion and I hope this process gives you a way to move forward inside of your deepest passion. I’m very proud of you and just love how you wrote about this. I think you have a great future as a blogger/columnist/writer, should you choose to do so. Thanks for writing!

  4. I’m glad that you have found an outlet for your frustrations with not being able to do what you’re passionate about. I understand that frustration as well with being stuck as a low level worker with a degree like mine. I also agree with the fact that music in schools is focused on personal achievement rather than what it can mean to the person who does it. The reason I didn’t do band after middle school is because I saw Dawn’s struggle with marching band. I’m curious to see your thoughts about everything music.

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