Americans used to be so musically literate that not only was sheet music routinely sold in the lobbies of theaters, but the sheet music of a hit could sell a million, even millions, of copies.
People would take home the hits of the day and play them with friends and family at home and in public places like barbershops.
Then along came recorded music and the population as a whole shifted away from making music to consuming it.
Still the music survived and a new wave of young musicians used the new technology to usher in a golden age of performance. (Think Charlie Parker playing his Lester Young records over and over and studying them under a musical microscope.)
A few generations later, the government bureaucrats who control public education, started, in their infinite wisdom, to remove music education from the schools kicking the legs out from basic music literacy which even the poorest child once had as a birthright. (Think Louis Armstrong learning basic solfege and singing EVERY DAY in class as part of the normal curriculum for schoolchildren in early 20th century New Orleans.)
Not only is music education disappearing, but appreciation of music skill seems to be in decline.
The case can be made that today popular music is in the hands of a few studio-based producers who use software tricks like auto-tune to homogenize music and remove human skill from its creation.
From one perspective things could start to look incredibly bleak.
But thanks to musician ingenuity, there’s a light on the horizon.
In addition to schools and teachers who continue educating children in music, a new generating of artist-educators have taken to the online world to make the art and science of jazz available in a way it has never been before to anyone with an Internet connection.
Despite all the challenges, in this one corner of the world, we are truly living in a golden age of music education.
Jazz on the Tube sits down with one of the innovators to talk about the phenomenon.
– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube
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Music credit: The Jazz on the Tube podcast theme song is “Mambo Inferno” performed by The Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra conducted by Bobby Sanabria from the CD ¡Que Viva Harlem!