(NaBloPoMo entry for Nov. 7, 2013)


You always hear the esoteric reasons to favor music education – the value of art, the value of listening, the history behind it, the mechanics of it, the whole Mozart effect… Here’s a way to look at it that maybe should be considered as well.


How much do you spend on food every year?  How much on gas for your car, on going to the movies, on other hobbies?  The more you spend on something, I would wager the more you want to know about it and assure that you’re getting your money’s worth.


So what about music?  Do you spend a whole wallet full there and don’t have a clue how music works, and what qualifies as ‘good’ music?  L


First off, get up and walk through your house.  How many radios do you have in the house?  How many tape decks, CD players (personal and otherwise), and maybe you even still have a record player.  Any MP3 players?   Personal CD players…. Headsets for any of those pieces of equipment.  How about a complete stereo system with those big speakers.  Boomboxes, too.  You’re probably reading this on the computer, so consider that it plays music, so count that, too.


Now count how many CDs you own… and tapes, and vinyl records…and figure out how many downloads you have on your hard drive.


Out in the garage, I bet you have a car or two.  Radio?  Yup, pretty standard.  Tape Deck, CD player?  Is it rigged for Bluetooth and MP3 playback?


I am pretty sure you have a pretty good list.  Now sit down and take a look and add it up.  CDs go for like 15 bucks a piece.  If you have tapes, figure you spent a good 8 to 10 bucks on it.  Any vinyl probably cost between 4 and 8 bucks.  Those MP3s you downloaded…. 99 cents a song please, maybe a little less if you bought entire albums.


Radios?  Anywhere from under ten bucks to a couple hundred, maybe.  Boom boxes might go from 25 bucks to well over 250 dollars.  Sound systems?  Oh my, I bet you spent at least 450 bucks on it… and for those higher level systems, closer to a thousand dollars.


I’m guessing the average household has spent quite a bit on sound producing items… 10 CDs, 10 tapes, 10 vinyl discs, two radios, a boom box, a sound system – let’s see, I bet your bill is over a thousand dollars – and that doesn’t count the money you might spend on concerts or other musical entertainment you take in.


I’m guessing, too, you’re not done.  You’ll buy more recorded music.  You’ll update your equipment over the years.


So then, we spend all this money on consuming music and folks have the thought that music is a FRILL?  Bulltweet, folks.  For these dollar figures alone that you’ve added up for yourself, you need to know what makes music tick.


Here’s my point – we spend all this money on listening to music with good equipment….  But what is your education on what IS good music?  Are you happy with what is considered good music?  Are you also dismayed as what some folks consider good music?


I’m tired of music being considered ‘good’ simply because it gets a lot of air time on the radio.  You have to admit – that effect is there.  You hear something often enough and hey, it must be good…. Doesn’t matter if it’s the latest rap song or the latest teenybopper over sexed girl – if it’s on the air, we’re therefore to assume that it is good.


Maybe it is time for us to take a look at our music teaching – whether in our schools or what we teach our own kids.  I taught music for 34 years, and I can honestly say that I didn’t do very well on teaching how to judge today’s music until later in my career.


We need to do that.  We need to teach not only the basics of music – harmony, melody, rhythm, and so forth … but we need to teach the art of listening with a discriminating ear – and it doesn’t matter if it’s classical, jazz, pop, country western, rock and roll, heavy metal.  WE NEED TO BE DISCRIMINATING MUSIC CONSUMERS and music education in our schools is a possible place to achieve that.