Sarah E. Rios
History and Philosophy of Music Education
January 13, 2013
Assignment #1 p.37
Do Aristotle or Plato offer any insights into the core questions of the class?
1. Does a life in "gymnastics" lead to a life of savegery, and a life solely in music, a life too gentle, too soft?
According to the reading; Socrates and Glaucon would agree (as this
is an imaginary discussion between the two) that this is true.
1. Why does Aristotle believe that education be regulated solely by the state? What are his feelings about private education? To whom is this education restricted?
Aristotle believed that the neglect of education "does harm the
constitution" in that in order for an individual to be a good citizen;
one must be molded and suited for the form of government he/she will
live under. He argues "the better the character" of the inhabitants of
the government "...the better the government." Aristotle feels that
public education is better than private education. Private education at
the time was more children being kept at home and being educated by
his/her mother;as the wife stayed at home and did not work most of the
time. He feels that education instead of being private and relative to
the teachings of that particular family; should be uniform for all that
live in that society since they all have a common goal of being a
civilized society. He maintains that this education should be regulated and restricted by the state.
2. What criteria does he recommend one follow in deciding what to teach?
He describes the customary branches of education in four aspects: i. reading and writing, ii. gymnastics and exercise, iii. music and iv. drawing. He goes on to describe that people should be able to work well and use leisure well. Although he goes on to describe that people should spend all of their time amusing themselves, he does go one to say that although the study of letters, reading and writing and business are important, that music is essential in teaching people how to conduct themselves in leisure. Music is looked at as a means of supporting the other and deemed more important subjects. Aristotle's view is shared by some even today.
3. What if one thinks solely about "the useful" in education?
He argues that that if one only thinks about "the useful" in education, that they are in danger of not teaching the next generation other concepts that music can help teach them like nobility and civility.
4. Should children be taught to play an instrument or just listen?
Aristotle maintains that parents and educators are careful not to teach music that will lead to vulgarity. He mentions that some in the history of Greece have considered the playing of the flute, lyre and Lydian harp (among other instruments) to lead to produce too much emotion. He also goes on the state that no freeman should be play instruments or sing for finances, calling professional musicians vulgar. He says "Nay, we can professional performers vulgar, no freeman would play or sing unless he were intoxicated in jest."
5. What do you think about Aristotle's argument about contests? And his opinions about performing on various instruments? Are there any parallels to this argument in contemporary life?
He seems to feel that children being trained to the end of competing in contests can be helpful and beneficial to the character. Although he asserts the vulgarity of becoming a professional musician, he thinks it to be beneficial for children to learn how to play certain musical instruments while they are still young to the end of competition. He thinks it is important for people to pay attention and care to exactly what instruments are being studied, as he feels that some are more appropriate than others. I think that there are definitely parallels in contemporary life. There are some that honor the study and practice of music by children even to the end of competing in recitals and other sorts of contests; however people have a tendency to not want their children to pursue a career in music or any aspect of the performing arts. Many feel that music and the performing arts is a very unstable profession and should only be practiced as hobbies and not pursued as professions.
6. Have you heard arguments in contemporary life similar to the following? Do you agree or disagree? "The vulgarity of the spectator tends to lower the character of the music and therefore of the performers; they look to him, he makes them what they are, and fashions even their bodies by the movements which he expects them to exhibit."
Yes, I have definitely hears arguments in contemporary life to that end. There have been many formal and informal discussions about the state of music today. Not just music, but all of the media outlets like film and television are being scrutinized for their content. There are those that argue that the violent images in television shows, movies and even video games contribute to the rising violence among young adults and teenagers in urban and suburban communities. They blame vulgar and misogynistic, degrading lyrics on the moral compass or lack thereof of partakers of rock n roll of the 60's and 70's and heavy metal, hip hop and rap of the 80's, 90's and the first decade of the the 21st generation (200-2010). I partly agree in that I do feel that what one takes in through their ear and eye gates on a constant basis does help to shape what value systems they hold and how they carry themselves; however I also know that there is much more then just music, movies and video games having an effect on today's teenager. Some would argue that children and teenagers becoming functioning and contributing members of society begins at home with the training and values being instilled in them by their parents, others feel that whether or not the child grows up in a loving home is a factor; or whether or not a child has access to both of his parents. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. All of those factors are important. There is not one aspect that is more important than another; aside from maybe the factor of a child knowing that they are loved. Not to say that this is the only thing it takes in order to become an effective contributing member of society; just that all of those factors; including what we watch and what we listen to effect who we are as individuals.
7. How does Aristotle resolve this dilemma? Are there parallels in contemporary life?
Aristotle seems to suggest that the resolution of this dilemma exists in being careful to teach children the usefulness of harmony and other theoretical concepts of music; rather than the emotional dynamics. He speaks about the possibility of being too emotionally moved to be of any purpose in society. There is also evidence in the reading that the society that Aristotle lives in is not the democracy that we as Americans know; but a society of slaves and free men. The free men, obviously are the educated people while the slaves are not. There are clear distinctions made between free men and slaves where slaves are not even referred to as people and where slaves are believed to be vulgar and wicked from birth. There is a great deal of reference to what is useful for a man to learn, since in this society, there probably at this time were not many girls being educated. That being the case, there were certain things that were considered feminine, or too soft; hence the reference to being careful not to get lost in the leisure and pleasure of music but to learn and to calm down after rigorous exercise or a hard day of working.
There indeed are parallels in contemporary life. Again, among some, music and the performing arts in general are things that one does to unwind, or relax or entertain guests; not something that one should pursue as a means of employment. Even the study of music education, and one taking on the training with the intent of becoming a music education; despite the rigorous education and practice that must be given to it is still, among some looked upon as not the most practical form of employment. There are some who hold the performing arts and music in very high regard; some for enjoyment, some for the purposes of training and discipline; but there are still some who regard music as something to be enjoyed for entertainment purposes only. The fact that most musicians that become wealthy are pop starts or other recording artists who spend years putting their lives on public display and missing out on what most would consider a "regular life" among other things only contributes to that opinion.