I’m sure most of you have seen the recent Jim Carrey commencement speech (or at least the shortened clickbait version). If not, here’s the short one:
While it is inspirational and uplifting if we put aside some of the issues of privilege in Carrey’s situation which I’ve been having discussions about with some folks elsewhere, this Salon.com piece, Dear graduates: Don’t follow your dreams (A commencement speech for the mediocre), by Tim Donovan reiterates what I’ve talked about regarding Survivorship Bias in two previous posts. Interestingly, Donovan’s piece isn’t specifically a response to Carrey’s speech as the post was published two days prior to the Maharishi University of Management Graduation.
A recent piece by Kenneth D. Froelich at NewMusicBox has spurred some interesting discussion on my facebook timeline here. I posted it with the following quote from the piece:
Then she played Steve Reich for them.
The response was, in a word, astonishing. The students began tapping along and became actively engaged in their listening. They asked questions—questions!—about the music (which, in of itself is a pretty remarkable feat). Whereas Mozart was boring, Reich was exciting! It was new—something they did not expect, especially in the context of “classical music.” They wanted to hear more! Several times after my wife played them Electric Counterpoint, they asked for it again, even over popular music examples that she had played.
While Steve Reich might be a composer that we would expect younger students to engage with, what was more surprising was the response she received when she played them Pierre Boulez. Admittedly, the students reacted with confusion at first. However, as the music played they wanted to hear more. They wanted to know where this “crazy noise” was going. Once again, the music engaged her students on a level that neither Mozart nor Tchaikovsky ever did. They became active listeners. The music was unique and didn’t sound like “stereotypical classical music.” Like Reich, her students asked to hear “that weird Boulez music” again—many times over, in fact.
*EDITED for content, clarity, and minimization of polarizing langauge*
This is going to be the first in a series of posts exploring narrow ideas of “Success” in discussions from some Classical Music Crisis folks.
Survivorship bias also flash-freezes your brain into a state of ignorance from which you believe success is more common than it truly is and therefore you leap to the conclusion that it also must be easier to obtain. You develop a completely inaccurate assessment of reality thanks to a prejudice that grants the tiny number of survivors the privilege of representing the much larger group to which they originally belonged.
I was having a conversation with composer, Kevin James, a few days ago about our Alma Mater, DePauw University and he mentioned that one of the things he hadn’t seen there while he was on an advisory committee for the direction of the music school is students playing in ensembles that they weren’t required to be in for a class or ensemble/chamber music credit. A couple weeks ago, Sugar Vendil wrote a piece for NewMusicBox asking the question, “Should I Start a New Music Ensemble?”
While watching the second episode of Penny Dreadful, I was struck by a thought* — I just don’t have time to watch all these geek themed television shows! Penny Dreadful is just the latest of shows which features vampires. The recently cancelled Dracula series, The Vampire Diaries and its spin-off, The Originals, and Being Human are series which center on stories of vampires. Like Penny Dreadful, the Lost Girl, Supernatural, and even Da Vinci’s Demons are set in worlds where vampires exist**.