Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Abusive Educators

Looks like the whole mean choir/band director stereotype has some history behind it. This is from Richard Taruskin's Music from the Earliest Notations to the 16th Century (pages 5 & 6) where he's writing about St. Gregory, he of Gregorian chant. The quote is from John the Deacon's biography of St. Gregory:

"He (St. Gregory) founded a schola which to this day performs the chant in the Church of Rome according to his instructions. He also erected two dwellings for it, at St. Peter's and the Lateran palace, where are venerated the couch from which he gave lessons in chant, the whip with which he threatened the boys, and the authentic antiphoner (book of chants)."

Makes me think my sometimes caricature of directors seeing themselves as training seals, instead of helping people appreciate and develop their musical nature, has a bit of merit as well. In his Introduction, Taruskin talks about the fine arts necessarily springing from elites. I'm wondering if there's some kind of psychological trade off between being acknowledged as extra talented and being treated in ways non-members of the elite might see as abusive. As I've said before, I find this type of behavior pretty weird, but folks who've come up through the system seem sincere in their not understanding why I have issues with it. 

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