My family and I went to see the movie August Rush this weekend. I had read the reviews and was prepared for the obligatory Oliver redux, but I was intrigued to see how they dealt with the whole musical child prodigy thing. I left the theater with mixed feelings- not the least of which was disappointment (yet again) of the attempt to portray the emotion of a fine musical performance. (They always TRY to have their fingers in the right place and hold the instruments correctly- I guess it wasn’t too bad…). I can’t help but think about what we are wrestling with in music education today regarding students who are not “traditional”.
Yes, I know that seems to be my theme of late, but I have had so many eye-opening experiences this year dealing directly with the issue that I have become a bit hypersensitive to it. Here is a movie about a child (August) that comes from two talented musical performers and has inherited an amazing talent and sensitivity for music. Hollywood always tries to cram the entire exploration of music into two hours and ends up glossing over many important steps in the maturation process (In the case of Rush– from orphanage to street corner musician to Juilliard all in the span of six months…) but the one thing that stood out for me was the absolute acceptance of his musical ability. Just because he had never seen notes or could did not grow up playing “au claire de lune” on a recorder with his kindergarten class- his talent was unmistakable. I daresay he could not notate what he was playing (at least not before he went to Juilliard) but nonetheless, it was brilliant.
This really opens up the proverbial “can of worms”. Does a musician need to be able to read and write music in order to be considered a TRUE musician? In these times of Garageband and Audacity, perhaps we are seeing an evolution. I of course have my own feelings on the matter, but would be very interested to hear your opinions!
If you would be so inclined to share your thoughts on the matter in the comments- I think it would make for a lively debate!
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