Sunday, June 27, 2010

School debt

Watching the increase of the need to educate those who need to expand their future potential and the education industry that feeds on them is becoming more and more out of control.

Just like the ATM, the banks said it would be cheaper for the consumer because there would be no attendant needed to make the transaction. WRONG! We now pay huge fees for this service.

Education now sells eBooks. The links to these eBooks now cost the same as a real hard copy book. The student pays less and the publisher invests less.

Just think about it.

Publishers get 80% of the net process. Authors get 10%, maybe a little more if they are a big time author. (Maybe, 5 in the USA).

I published with Prentice Hall for over 25 years. I was told to create a new edition every 3 years to push up the royalties that had been taken by the used book market.

The new wave is to deliver online material that requires an access code. So a used book is now a dead animal but can live on with an access code to the same material online. The access code alone is now the cost of a text book.

Just think, in many European nations education is free.

Go figure.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Music Theory -- The Solution

I agree totally; however there is a solution. Teachers of music theory need to talk. We had three music theory teacher when we developed these courses and we, through discussion, came to consensus on what was important for the student to learn and when it was important to learn it.

Most schools have a single theory teacher working in a vacuum -- going down silly paths.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why theory teachers disagree

One of the things we have finally come to realize is that the fact that a great unified theory of music theory will probably never exist. We have for many years had an online music theory sequence that we taught successfully. Although all the other classes we have developed online seem acceptable to teachers across the nation with only minor personal changes the theory sequence is not so readily accepted. We think this may be for a variety of reasons. Composers are pretty independently secure in their own view of how theory should be taught. In fact, we have met very few theory teachers that do not believe they alone know how theory should be taught. As a result developing a general course of study is close to impossible.

Upon reflection, there seems to be three types of music teacher groups. History and literature teachers value the evolutionary development of music and use theory as a way to develop a method for musical criticism. Composers focus on the mechanisms of theory that support the creation of new musical material. Performers see theory as a tool for performance practice.

These three views of musical study lead to different needs theoretically. Composers might need a study of historical musical practice, even those no longer practiced, e.g. modal counterpoint. History and literature programs value the compositional practice of notable historical periods, e.g. impressionism, expressionism, etc. Performance programs need theory to underpin contemporary musical and stylistic practice, e.g. jazz theory, rock theory, etc.

The theory program of a college seems to develop a theory program that matches the dominant view of musical practice as defined by which of these three musical world views they might hold most dear. Of course there are also hybridization among these world views that would require even more varied theory programs.

For this reason we have decided that a model online theory class is not practical. It may be impossible to develop a class that serves the need of all without being unreasonably overloaded for students. We have found that it is more practical to offer only the tools to build a class somewhere along the continuum of musical world views rather than a fully developed course ready for adoption. It actually comes down to unique class development to match unique personal needs valued by individual instructors. Courses need to be created one at a time to meet the unique needs of each music program.

To do otherwise is spitting in the wind. The fact that there is no great unified theory of music theory may mean music theory is too insulated institutionally to be unified or, inversely, that music theory itself is too robust and complex an abstraction to be reduced to a generalized expression.

This ambiguity is why I love the study of music and perhaps why music might scare those who need specific academic answers.