My Purpose

My Purpose

The purpose of this blog is to help people understand that music can be more then just entertainment, and what those things are. I want be able to help people with this blog. I don't know everything about music, I am still studying it, however, I will share what I have found. I hope you will be enlighted and edified by what I have to share. I worry that some people might turn a deaf ear to my blog if they read something on this blog that they don't agree with. I respect your beliefs. I don't agree with everything I read either. But I know you can find something that can help and interest you, if you just keep reading.

"Quotes Worth Mentioning"


When asked where his inspiration came from, Johannes Brahms said, "I immediately feel vibrations that thrills my whole being. These are the Spirit illuminating the soul power within, and in this exalted state, I see clearly what is obscure in my ordinary moods: Then I feel capable of drawing inspiration from above, as Beethoven ... Straighway the ideas flow in upon me, directly from God, and not only do I see distinct themes in my mind's eye but they are clothed in the right forms, harmonies, and orchestration. Measure by measure, the finished product is revealed to me when I am in those rare, inspired moods." "The powers from which all truly great composers like Mozart, Schubert, Bach and Beethoven drew their inspiration is the same power that enabled Jesus to work his miracles. It is the same power that created our earth and the whole universe"
("Talks with Great Composers", Arthur M. Abell)

"Give me power over he who shapes the music of a nation, and I care not for who shapes it laws"
Napolian Bonaparte

“Intellectual enlightenment consists of instruction in the arts, numbers, history, speech, and government. Music consummates a man’s life, giving his rituals meaning. Music has a trensforming effect on its listeners, and should be the first principle of government.” -The Teachings of Confucius.

I quote some remarks between,Gene R. Cook, and Mik Jagger made a few years ago:
Cook: "I have the opportunity to be with a lot of young people. Many say your music does not affect them adversely in any way. Others say it effects them in a very bad way. What is your opinion? What is your impact?”
Jagger "Our music is calculated to drive the kids to sex. It's not my fault what they do. It's up to them. I'm just making a lot of money.”
Cook: He was in Mexico making a profane and pornographic music video because the cost is 1/3 there. In addition it is easier to produce such videos there at the moment. He explained that though such videos with explicit sexual behavior is illegal on US national television, it soon will be, and they want to have the videos ready. Now not only audio pornography can be portrayed, but they can view it as well. He was making more money this way."
Jagger:“It doesn't matter what you do in life, there are no rules. There is no god. You can take whatever you want. It doesn't matter."

"To encourage literature and the arts is the duty which every good citizen owns to his country."
George Washington

"Music has the power of producing a certain effect on the moral character of the soul, and if it has the power to do this, it is clear that the young must be directed to music and must be educated in it."

(more qoutes to come)

PLEASE NOTE: It would greatly benefit the reader to follow blog postings from the first post to the most recent. Using the Blog Archive in the left column of the page to jump to the oldest posts. For now I will see if I can find a way to display the posting in chronilogical order, first post to the latest post.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Believing the theses above to be true, the Utah Festival Opera in Logan, Utah launched a bold new program in 1996 to empower teachers to assist their students in developing their creative abilities and magnify their capacities in the areas of working in a community, communication skills and creativity. The opera company’s educational personnel work with elementary classrooms and teachers in several school districts to assist children in the creation of their own original operas. The children write their own libretto, compose their own music, and in most cases, create and build their own sets and costumes. Each class then has the opportunity to participate in the “Children’s Opera Festival” where each children’s opera is fully staged with assitance from a professional technical crew which provides lighting and sound support Teachers are guided through every step of the creative process. Interested teachers are given step-by-step instruction in the process of helping children to create opera in a workshop conducted by the opera company each year. Teachers are provided with a manual detailing the process of writing the story and the music, building sets, props, and costumes. In this forum, teachers also learn how to work as teams and how to incorporate the program into cross-curricular studies. They also learn how to step back and allow the children to be the creators and to take ownership of their own work. The Utah Festival Opera provides free professional artistic assistance to the teachers in their classrooms. Music and drama specialists, as well as piano accompanists, visit classrooms and assist teacher and students in the creative process. Costumes, instruments and art supplies are also made available. When we first developed this program, I volunteered to be one of the first mentors to go out into the schools. My first visit was to a combined 2nd grade classroom that contained over 75 students. The three teachers left me alone with the children for nearly two hours. Such a fate would be dreaded by most anyone fearing that the discipline challenges would be beyond control. In this case they were not, because it became immediately apparent that this project belonged to the children. I was simply there to facilitate their creative process, not to direct it. The story would be theirs, the words their own. As long as they were in control of their destiny with the project there was no need to impose discipline from me. They did it among themselves. Once they took ownership of the project, they also took ownership of the process, which included keeping order and discipline. We determined by majority vote, which they determined to be 38 votes (a math concept beyond their years), that the story should be about dinosaurs. I asked if they knew enough about the subject to present it in a musical drama. They soon showed me that they understood a great deal about the subject. We proceeded to set the stage. How do we inform the audience that our opera is about dinosaurs from an age past? One child proposed that a narrator come forward and tell the audience what we were about to portray. I noted that such a technique was a good one and proposed that perhaps there was a way of telling the story without words. There was a moment of silence as the children determined how they could communicate their story without the use of language. Soon a child said “we will create a Mesozoic forest!” I asked how they would do that. Wonderful, extravagant ideas flooded forward about trees, mountains, etc.. I explained that Art was a means of telling a story in as much economy as possible. The less said the better. How could we tell the audience that they were in a Mesozoic forest without actually creating one? One child proposed that we paint a few Mesozoic trees on a back-drop. The class determined that this was a good idea. Now to the process: on what material do we paint this forest. “On plywood!” came one response. We determined to budget that possibility. I explained that every material that we used would require that we “earn” the money to purchase it. Part of our creative idea is to help young children understand that “things” have value. I fear that we have taught an unrealistic if not untrue principle that “things” come from nowhere. On the first day of school texts, paper, pencils, rulers, markers all appear on their desks from nowhere. When they are destroyed, used or lost they magically reappear from nowhere. The opera company wishes to help children understand that this is not a realistic paradigm under which to operate. Everything has a value. “Does anyone know what a piece of plywood costs?” I asked. No one had any idea, neither had they ever thought about the fact that plywood had a cost. We “guesstimated” that they were valued at about $20.00 each and that we would need 10 to cover the back of our “stage”. I asked how much money we would then need to raise. In a matter of seconds the correct response of $200 came forth from the group. Our project was now taking on multiplication principles beyond their years. “Fine,” I said, “How will we earn the money. “We’ll bake cookies” was one response. “We’ll wash cars” was another. We voted and the washing of cars won out. I asked what we would charge for the service, and the response came back “one dollar per car!” We then determined how many cars would need to be washed to equal our need. With fallen voices and countenances they determined that 200 cars were too many to wash. Within a moment another idea was proposed. “My uncle has an appliance store and he has lots of big boxes. We can cut them up and make a backdrop from them.” We determined that this was a great idea. How would we stand the cardboard up. Interesting engineering ideas were postulated, but before we could decide on the best proposal, another idea come forth. Why don’t we keep the boxes intact and paint the scenery on one of the sides towards the audience. That brought forth another idea that we could turn the boxes and have the potential of four different scenes painted on the boxes. Now that is creative thought, community work and communication at it’s apex. I defy any science or math teacher to come up with better problem solving skills and more creative solutions. All of this took place within the first 20 minutes of our process. Why such high level creative thinking, because the children were all united in the creative process of the Arts. There is nothing passive about this process. This is not about watching a play or visiting a museum or listening to a concert. This is doing, not watching. We assigned a group of students to investigate the box solution to our scenery need. Within moments another idea came forth. “What about painting the scene on sheets?” “We could hang them on a wire and move them across to change the scene” came another response. We agreed that sheets were also a good idea. I asked if anyone knew the value of sheets. No one had any idea sheets cost money. Again we had led them to believe they appeared from no where. We determined a committee to take an after school visit to one of our local department stores and survey the costs and report back to the class. Another student said “what about the D.I.?” one of our local second hand stores equivalent to a Salvation Army thrift store. It was determined to be a great alternative plan. Another investigatory committee was established. Another child said, “we don’t need to buy sheets, my mother has a whole closet full of them she’d never miss!” I explained that theft was not part of our plan, but his comment prompted a little girl who had not made any comment throughout the morning to come forth with one of the best ideas of the day. She timidly said. “We send out a newsletter every week and we never know what to say in it. How about saying...We need your old sheets for our opera, please save them and donate them to us!” Now there is conservation, economy, community participation and creativity rolled up into one press release! Had we not done anything more that day it would have been sufficient! But there was more. Now that we felt we had materials upon which to paint our scene we had to determine where to get the paint. How many colors do we need? At first a multitude of colors came forward, then one of the children reminded them that with three colors, (red, yellow and blue) a rainbow of colors could be mixed. We determined that a quart of each of these colors could complete our project. How much would that cost? We determined that a local paint store might be willing to donate the paint. I asked what we could offer to the owner of the store that might cause him to want to help us out. I explained the principle of quid pro quo (???) which they understood immediately. One child suggested that we offer tickets to our opera in exchange for the paint. Another child suggested that we print a program and put an “ad” from the paint store in it. All this from 2nd graders! I don’t worry about the future of creative community work provided children have a regular creative opportunities of this nature. My next stop was at another school in our county where an anxious teacher awaited my arrival. Our standard formula is to have three acts or scenes. Act one is an introduction of the characters, act two is the conflict that develops from the traits of the characters and act three is a resolution of the conflict. We identify the characters by adjectives, which children of pre-school age can understand. We use five adjectives for each character. We have learned from experience that at least 3 of the 5 need to be positive adjectives. Children are more prone to find negative adjectives and need to be guided to balancing it with positive adjectives. Children learn that certain character types can create conflicts with other types, but that there is also means by which those conflicts can be resolved in a mutually beneficial fashion. We can a great deal about a character by the way they communicate. As we began to introduce one of our characters by allowing the students to submit dialogue out loud one of the students shot forth very “creative” language. All of the words consisted of four letters and many of them were compound words. His language was “blue” enough to make a sailor blush, and the teacher buried her shaking head into her hands. Much to her shock and that of the class, I wrote his words on the board. There was an audible gasp! I acknowledged that these were real words that some people use. I asked the young man who he wanted to come to our opera. He said “grandma.” He admitted that he loved his grandmother and wanted her to be there when the opera was performed. I asked him if he thought his mother knew what these words meant. He acknowledged that he believed she did. I asked if she used the words herself. He reluctantly said no. I asked if it might be possible that she might be offended by the words. He supposed that she might. I pressed him to see if she might leave our production. He acquiesced that it was a possibility. I asked him how he would feel if she left our production. He said that he would feel badly if she left. I explained that there are some strong words which can alienate or offend people and cause them not to hear our message. I asked him if words like that really have strength if our message is not received. He said no. I asked him if he could think of words which have the same amount of power but might not offend. He replaced each of his words with appropriate ones. When we took our break the teacher confessed to me that she had tried all year long to impress upon him that his language was not getting the response he really wanted, but to no avail. The more she objected to his language the more he used offensive words. In a matter of minutes we did more through the opera project than she had been able to do all year. The reason was two fold: the arts should create a “safe” environment for expression. We were examining character “A”’s language, not this young man. We were able to analyze the use of language without “attacking” the young man or causing him to “stonewall” his position. Secondly, from a position of detachment, he was able to hear, perhaps for the first time, that his colleagues in the class were not impressed by the language. Their reactions of shock were a result of repulsion not impression. One overriding rule in our program is that “no one gets hurt” in our operas. This means both physically and emotionally. We openly discuss the power of language to injure and offend. It helps children understand the importance of communication and respect language. Another class came up with a very interesting conflict for their opera. The plot was strongly led by the smallest child in the class. She led them to draft a plot that involved a very small girl who was not allowed to go into the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. She was too short to gain admittance. She sought revenge for being turned away. The third graders identified very well to the conflict. The little girl determined to blow up Disneyland by filling a school bus with explosives and driving it into the park. I allowed them to continue and wrote down all their ideas on the board. She girl succeeded in her project and Disneyland was destroyed. The class cheered! I asked them how the conflict was resolved. Who won? They purported that the little girl won. I asked how she won, did she get into the ride? Is revenge a real form of winning? Did anyone else win? No one could ever ride again. There was a thoughtful silence in the room. They all determined that no one won from this scenario, and they determined to abandon the plot and move to another. It would take a great deal of reading and discussion of the elements of revenge and terrorism to haveaccomplished the same understanding as working through this drama.

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