Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of March 7, 2011
Readers write in about the melodies of modern classical music, conservative art, and the merits of teaching parenting to students.
Modern music to my ears
I take issue with Michael Fedo's Feb. 14 commentary, "Why does modern classical music spurn melody?" Appreciating music as a listener is really a question of what sounds good to the listener. I'm 70 and an avid classical music listener and have found pieces by modern composers that are wonderfully melodic. Górecki's Symphony No. 3, Philip Glass's score for the movie "The Hours," and some of the music by John Adams come to mind.
Maybe we've got a self-fulfilling prophesy here. Most orchestras don't play much modern classical music, so people aren't used to it, so they don't like it.
Regarding Sam Guzman's Feb. 14 commentary, "Conservative argument is no match for liberal art," Mr. Guzman underestimates conservative art and doesn't give himself or other conservatives enough credit. Art is the ability to engender emotion from the flimsiest of subjects, and certainly anyone who has listened to talk radio can appreciate the emotion that is wrought there.
The ability to stir anger in the breast of those needing a scapegoat on which to throw all their unjustly endured wrongs is sheer genius. Entertainers such as Rush Limbaugh are equal to any great opera singer. Such politicizing of every aspect of society is one of the great artistic achievements of our time.
Guzman's commentary reflects a view of unspecified conservative superiority over liberals. Conservatives have for years tried to claim they corner the market on all of the good aspects of concepts like "faith, freedom, and family." But until we stop seeing everything as us versus them and stop looking at politics, national identity, and culture as a win/lose war, and realize that we need to work together toward a win/win situation, we'll simply end up with a lose/lose deal.
Teach parenting to students
In his Feb. 21 commentary ("Want better students? Teach their parents."), Jerome Kagan suggests early coaching for parents to improve student achievement. This suggestion works as long as there are parents around.
As a teacher in the inner city, I had many fifth-graders whose parents were on drugs, homeless, illiterate, or in prison, so, if lucky, the children would be raised by a grandparent. Most all of these parents loved their children, but they were struggling to survive.
Perhaps a more proactive suggestion would be to reach back even further into students' lives. Schools need to extend their days to offer classes such as personal finance and parenting to assist students before they become parents themselves.