I have a problem and I’d like your opinion on this.
I agree that this piece is an awkward choice, however I have different reasons. I think it’s great to expose young students to different genres, especially contemporary music. However, as far as the competition goes, I feel that this piece is going to penalize any student who doesn’t have a teacher that is familiar with contempory music practices and isn’t wiling to take the time themselves to learn and interpret it. As you’ve already identified, it is going to take a lot of time, not only for the student but for the teacher as well! I’m willing to put in that time for a motivated student, but I do feel that there are lots of talented students out there who might have teachers that aren’t willing, aren’t able, or simply don’t have time. This is not the kind of piece a 15 year old is going to get their hands around by themselves, therefore I think for most of them it is really going to be spoon-fed by the teacher. I suppose an argument can be made that the same is true for any piece, but I agree that choosing something from the standard repertoire would be more usful for the student, and I think more fair as since there are many avenues an enterprising student can pursue to learn and interpret a standard repertoire piece.
Another problem I have with it is that as far as I’m aware there is only one recording, by Judy Loman. When I called to order the music, I was immediately asked “do you want the recording as well?” So I have to wonder how many competitors will simply be spitting out what they’ve heard on the one recording. It seems like there will not be a lot of room for personal interpretation as everyone struggles simply to “get it right.”
I’ve told a few of my own students that this is going to be the “make or break” piece for this division. I wonder how many in this age group will have the time or motivation to see “Quarks and Shadows” to the end. Perhaps that’s the ultimate reason why the AHS chose the piece–to weed out those not willing to put forth the effort. I’m personally not convinced it’s a great reason, but who knows…. I do applaud them for trying something different and exposing young students to something new, but I share your feelings that this might not be the best or most useful choice for the student.
Kim- Thanks for the reply. I think that the selection committee could, at the very least, offer one or two alternate pieces and ask the student to play one of the two or three. That’s what they are doing in the next level up and it’s standard practice in most musical competitions. Personally I think this was a terrible choice.
I doubt there’s any point in sending it. Do you really think they will change anything? So many repertoire choices are questionable, and nothing is more questionable in my mind than the age categories. It is commendable to include contemporary music, but tastes differ so much. Judy Loman apparently likes Weinzweig’s music. He was a leading Canadian composer, by the way. I think a good modern piece is Continuum by Lalo Shifrin. It develops technique, it has an esthetic, it is easy to understand as art (sound as color streams) and is not terribly hard to play. Perhaps if more people could have input on the repertoire choices it would be better. Unfortunately, it has tended to stay in the same hands for decade upon decade.
Well as soon as I figure out to whom I’m going to mail my letter, I’ll let everyone know here. Those that want to voice an opinion will be able to do so. My main beef is that this choice doesn’t take into account the development of high school students or the severe constraints on their practice time.
Carl Swanson wrote: I want to express my extreme displeasure at one of
the selections, the Shadows and Quarks by someone called Weinzweig.”
I would suggest leaving out “someone called” and just say by Weinzweig.
“Someone called” suggests to me that either his name is presumed
ridiculous or that his being unknown to the writer makes him a ridiculous
choice. The issue is the quality and usefulness of this specific piece,
not who in particular wrote it, correct?
When it comes to formal complaints it seems most productive to word
everything as objectively and accurately as possible. I don’t usually
expect an unknown person to care how I may feel about an issue.
Expressing too much emotional context can imply less objectivity. I’m
not as familiar with the structure of the harp community, but use the
detached, objective approach as much as possible to gain results for
change. This keeps the focus off the person submitting the issue and on
the issue itself.
Julienne- Very astute comments. One of the reasons I posted that first draft of the letter is exactly for comments like yours. My first reaction in most situations is to go for the jugular. I usually need someone else, and sometimes several people to rein me back. Thanks.
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