From: Roderic G Steph


From: Roderic G Stephens <[log in to unmask]>

Well, let's not throw our musical babies out with the bath water.  My dearest granddaughter and grandson have had excellent music training in their elementary and middle schools here in Redding, California.  Granddaughter Grace had violin instruction in our Manzanita Elementary School and played at a young age with other string players, and now at Sequoia Middle School has fallen in love with percussion.  Her parents (my daughter, Alexandra and David, her husband) have loving got her a drum set (you've got to really love to have those in the house (;-).  She plays in the marching band and a fledgling jazz group at the school.  Grandson William is following her at Manzanita and now plays the clarinet and the other day even played us the theme from Mahler's 1st, the ironic "Frère Jacques" in the minor key.  He knows the Mahler from CD's.  His parents play classical, jazz, and even folk recordings from CD's and our many varied FM stations.  My
daughter plays her Chickering baby grand piano that my mother left to her and her bent is classical, too.  I may have mentioned our North State Symphony that plays in our restored Cascade Theater, and Shasta College has a jazz band as well as many choral and orchestral concerts.  Simpson University also has similar courses, programs and concerts all of which are well attended.  So, even though we suffer from triple degree heat at times during our summers, we are not really one of those cultural deserts such as Tom seems to feel exists nation wide.


There are some studies which suggest that, in the US, there is a decent amount of participation in the arts.

Yet, if you read the study above, and look at the criteria...well I am not really all that sure what it tells us.

You can also look at some of the economics.

You can read books like "Men, Women and Pianos" and get a sense of the role music making had in earlier times in our society. 

Over the years I have wrestled with some basic questions like, "was there a time in this country where the art of music was valued more highly than it is today?" "Is our music audience less educated today?" etc. I have read many books in an effort to get a sense of this. Reading books about orchestras, books written in the 1930s, authors spoke about trying to attract a younger audience. Well, it seems they still are trying to attract those young listeners. The classic study "The Performing Arts, the Economic Dilemma" by Bowen and Baumol argued that they was no arts "explosion" in the late 50s and early 60s. 

Why are orchestras having financial problems? As the above study mentioned, even in the mid 60s the amount of money being spent on orchestras and the other arts was expanding at rates far greater than inflation. Is that the root of the problem? 

I am unaware of any statistically significant studies which really address the questions being raised in this particular thread. If you know of any studies that talk about some of these basic questions, please do pass them along.