Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR READERS: Regarding last week's column, some of us apparently missed the point. Read on:

DEAR JERRY: Regarding the "Get America Singing Again" debate. I respectfully suggest that you and many of your readers missed the point.

The intent is to have Americans raise their voices together in song; to experience the joy of singing. It matters little what is sung, just that, through music, we find common ground.

The 42 songs selected taught to school children will become part of a common repertoire. I feel confident that the Music Educators National Conference will make every attempt in the future to have the songs cross every culture, span each era, and represent America's diversity.
—Catherine Pfeiler, Hartland, Wis.

DEAR JERRY: I can shed some light on M.E.N.C. song list.

From the music teacher's point of view, these are not necessairly songs all people should already know, nor a list of favorites, but songs reflective of our roots that we hope to get everyone to know. Hence no classical, jazz, or rock pieces that only trained and talented performers sing. Most are folk songs or spirtuals — songs easily sung by untrained people, ones that reflect the wide diversity of our nation.
—Tom Miller (M.E.N.C. member), Port Washington, Wis.

DEAR JERRY: As a bona-fide "stuffy educator" I must comment on Darwin Foote's reaction to the list of songs compiled by the M.E.N.C. for inclusion in school music curricula. Foote could not understand why anyone should bother with many of the songs.

The point being ignored is the historical, cultural, and social relevance of the songs selected. I dare say that "Rock Around the Clock," while quite popular, does not measure up against those on the M.E.N.C. list. Popularity does not make art. That assumption seems to be based upon too great a preoccupation with a consumerist view that places little importance for anything other than self. Don't make the same mistake with music.
—Daniel Hershman, Ph.D., via e-mail

DEAR CATHERINE, TOM & DANIEL: Thanks to letters like yours, we have a clearer understanding of the educators' true intent with regard to their list of songs.

Unfortunately for those who read the original news story, and in my case, saw only the letter sent by a reader, we found no mention whatsoever that future lists were planned, annually or otherwise. Just that these were the songs "every American should know," period.

Perhaps the list should have been publicized as songs "students of historically, culturally, socially relevent music curricula should know."

Again, thank you for the feedback.

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