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Folk Music Dying?

GUEST 06 Jun 03 - 09:17 AM
Bev and Jerry 06 Jun 03 - 03:44 PM
GUEST,Johnny in OKC 06 Jun 03 - 04:15 PM
GUEST,Ron Olesko 06 Jun 03 - 04:34 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 06 Jun 03 - 05:03 PM
Wesley S 06 Jun 03 - 05:18 PM
Wesley S 06 Jun 03 - 05:21 PM
Bev and Jerry 06 Jun 03 - 06:55 PM
GUEST,Russ 06 Jun 03 - 07:16 PM
Burke 06 Jun 03 - 07:33 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Jun 03 - 07:33 PM
Jeri 06 Jun 03 - 08:06 PM
Ely 06 Jun 03 - 09:15 PM
Liz the Squeak 07 Jun 03 - 02:01 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 07 Jun 03 - 07:54 AM
Naemanson 07 Jun 03 - 08:02 AM
Jeri 07 Jun 03 - 08:54 AM
Kaleea 08 Jun 03 - 05:10 AM
Richard Bridge 08 Jun 03 - 05:18 AM
Liz the Squeak 08 Jun 03 - 07:42 AM
tooligan 08 Jun 03 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,sorefingers 08 Jun 03 - 11:43 AM
wysiwyg 08 Jun 03 - 11:48 AM
Abby Sale 08 Jun 03 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,sorefingers 08 Jun 03 - 01:18 PM
GUEST,Frankham 08 Jun 03 - 05:11 PM
GUEST 08 Jun 03 - 06:12 PM
NicoleC 08 Jun 03 - 09:33 PM
Little Hawk 08 Jun 03 - 10:39 PM
musicmick 09 Jun 03 - 01:33 AM
GUEST,Sooz(at work) 09 Jun 03 - 08:22 AM
GUEST,jonm 09 Jun 03 - 09:01 AM
GUEST,Santa 09 Jun 03 - 09:14 AM
GUEST,Frankham 09 Jun 03 - 10:38 AM
GUEST,VINCE 09 Jun 03 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,vince again 09 Jun 03 - 11:02 AM
GUEST,Santa 09 Jun 03 - 11:43 AM
wysiwyg 09 Jun 03 - 12:06 PM
Little Hawk 09 Jun 03 - 01:22 PM
NicoleC 09 Jun 03 - 03:01 PM
GUEST 09 Jun 03 - 05:38 PM
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NicoleC 09 Jun 03 - 06:26 PM
Amos 09 Jun 03 - 06:36 PM
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JohnD 10 Jun 03 - 04:11 AM
Bert 10 Jun 03 - 04:44 AM
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GUEST,Ron Olesko 10 Jun 03 - 01:16 PM
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Subject: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 09:17 AM

Looks like there is some work to be done. The following press release came from the University of Florida.

rich r


UF STUDY: CHILDREN'S KNOWLEDGE GAP OF FOLK SONGS THREATENS HERITAGE

May 28, 2003

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- Children in the United States aren't singing the songs of their heritage, an omission that puts the nation in jeopardy of losing a longstanding and rich part of its identity, a new University of Florida study suggests. A recent nationwide survey found school music programs are allowing generations-old lullabies, and historical children's and folk songs to be ignored, with some teachers replacing them with the latest pop hits.

Today's school kids are more likely to know the lyrics to popular songs, such as Britney Spears' "Oops I Did it Again" or "Lose Yourself" by Eminem, than to "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," said Marilyn Ward, who did the research for her doctoral dissertation in music this spring.

"The study found that, overall, the vast majority of young people could not sing patriotic, folk and children's songs, because teachers who teach them at all frequently don't go over the songs enough for students to learn them," she said. "Most students could not be expected to sing from memory songs such as 'Home on the Range,' 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' or "Bingo.'"
The findings are especially troubling as ailing school districts nationwide are considering cutting music programs in an effort to save money, experts say.

Ward surveyed 4,000 music teachers nationwide from elementary to high school in the summer and early fall of 2002 about how much they taught and how well their students knew by memory 100 well-known songs considered representative of the American heritage. Few students can even sing the national anthem, the study found. "When people stand up and don't sing the 'Star Spangled Banner,' there's a reason for that," Ward said. "They don't know it."

Research has shown these songs not only help children learn about important events, but also allow them to more closely relate to the hardships and joys of their grandparents and ancestors by stepping into their shoes, Ward said. "Music broadens our understanding by letting us experience history - making it more memorable and meaningful than reading isolated stories of events from another time," she said.

For example, she said, "I've got a mule, her name is Sal, 15 miles on the Erie Canal," begin the words to the song that chronicles a grueling, old-fashioned trip along the famous waterway. Another example, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again," dramatizes a welcome end to a long war, she said.

To create a list of 100 representative songs, Ward distributed written surveys to 223 men and women over 62 who grew up in 44 states as well as 30 elementary music specialists at top universities ranked by U.S. News & World Report. She then sent written surveys to 4,000 general music teachers listed by the National Association for Music Education - 80 in each state - asking how many of their students could sing these songs from memory. Based on how much time they had spent teaching each song, the teachers - 1,792 of whom responded - were asked to rate this knowledge using one of five measures: practically all, most, some, few or practically none.

Most of the teachers said that few students would be able to sing the songs and that they had spent little time teaching them. Folk songs were the most neglected, followed by children's and patriotic songs.

"Although Americans say that the singing of folk songs and songs of our heritage are important, we are teaching very few of them in the schools," said UF music Professor Russell Robinson, who supervised the study. "Perhaps this research will alert educators and parents that what we say we want for our young people is not necessarily what we're teaching."

Urban schoolteachers taught the most children's songs, followed by those in rural schools. Suburban schools lagged far behind in every category. Middle schools had the worst record for teaching folk songs and high schools the best, Ward said. California was the least child-song friendly state, receiving the lowest score for knowledge of children's songs. Nebraska ranked highest overall and in the children's songs category, while South Dakota was tops in patriotic songs and Kansas in folk songs, she said. Hispanic teachers taught far more patriotic songs than any other ethnic group, as did music teachers who had been in the profession the longest, Ward said. And private school teachers consistently outperformed public school teachers in every category, she said.

Mike Blakeslee, deputy executive director of the National Association for Music Education, said he is not surprised by the study's findings and believes that cuts in public school music programs are a factor. "Especially lately, we have been receiving a lot of anecdotal accounts of severe challenges to music programs," he said. "It's a truism that in hard times music programs
are the first to go. Our experience from our members across the nation seems to bear that out." Music programs now are under the double pressure of a poor economy and new mandates, many of which place a great deal of emphasis on narrowly defined testing for reading and math. As a result, many students do not receive satisfactory music education, Blakeslee said. "Music is one of the cultural milestones in our society," he said. "It helps kids grow and develop in so many ways."

Ward said she believes more children would learn the tunes if music teachers received lists of American songs and worked with their colleagues to help pass along the knowledge. "In the same way that students are given required summer reading lists, music teachers could assign a list of songs to be memorized over the summer," she said.

Not learning these songs contributes to the loss of a sense of community, which may be a factor in anti-social attitudes and behavior, Ward said. "American children's folk music is a national treasure that holds keys to understanding our country's people, their values, their history and their culture," she said. "Without it, our nation could lose its heritage."


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 03:44 PM

Although this is the first study of it's kind that we're aware of, the results aren't exactly news. We became aware of this sad state of affairs about twenty five years ago and that's why we started presenting American folk music programs in schools.

Children would not "...learn the tunes if music teachers received lists of American songs and worked with their colleagues to help pass along the knowledge". In California, at least, there are virtually no music teachers. Also, we have state testing of every student every year and the results effect teachers' salaries among other things. So, the whole school year is geared to "The Test" which contains no questions about folk music or any other kind of music.

In the January, 1984 issue of Music Educators Journal an article appeared which stated "American folk music is an important part of or national heritage to which many students will not be exposed unless that exposure occurs in school. Furthermore, schools are the ideal place for folk music because this material complements the information content of many academic subjects." Modesty prevents us from revealing the authors of this article.

In the movie "Mr. Holland's Oous" there is a scene where Mr. Holland gets laid off after some twenty five years of teaching high school music. The principal explains that the budget has been cut and if he has to choose between reading, writing, and long division versus drama and music, reading, writing, and long division will win every time. Mr. Holland replies that, although the kids may learn to read and write, they won't have anything to read and write about.

We have played at thousands of schools, public, private and parochial. The problem is found almost exclusively in public schools.

End of rant Part I.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST,Johnny in OKC
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 04:15 PM

I'd like to see that list of 100
songs. -- Johnny


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST,Ron Olesko
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 04:34 PM

The list is unimportant. Juding by the samples of "Erie Canal" and "Johnny Comes Marching Home" we get the drift.   It is only a guess since we haven't read the list, but I am sure the songs are those which 30 or 40 years ago would have appeared in most music collections.

My kids go to the same school system that I went to. In the early 60's we were singing songs like those above. I still remember one teacher bringing in boxes of Goober Peas as she taught us the words to the song.

When I looked over some of the songs that my daughter was singing, I did not recognize most of the songs.   A lot of the songs were written by modern authors, many primarily for the specific song collection that the teacher was using.   I also recognized that these songs were designed to teach specific musical lessons rather than being a song designed by the folk process. Songs would be created to teach harmony or simple scales - it is often easier for an educator to make something up to teach instead of doing their homework to find a song that would fit the example. Sometimes it is cheaper to - remember that many of these "folksongs" have copyrighted arrangments thanks to the folk revival.

I am sure that budgets have a LOT to do with this. But I also think it is changing cultures. I remember learning folksongs on the old Captain Kangaroo TV series.    When my daughter was young, she watched Barney, that big purple dinosaur that was soundly criticized. I was happy to see that on that show at least, Barney often sang what we would sort of recognize as "folk" songs.   My son, six years younger, watches the shows that have followed in Barney's tracks - shows that play inspid original tune that sell products rather than ideas. The times they are a changing... unless you use VISA or Mastercard.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 05:03 PM

I am an elementary music teacher and I teach traditional music almost exclusively. I refuse to "Disneyfy" my curriculum, while there are such riches abounding. Having said that, I must confess that I haven't taught "Erie Canal" or "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" for some years. I almost never teach the same lesson two years in a row, so next year I'm going to get out the wonderful "song map" of the US that Art Thieme sent me some time ago, and take the students on a musical tour of the country!
I also spend a lot of time teaching music of other cultures, so it does cut into the time I have. Especially since I only have them for 30 minutes at a time!
I realize that I'm priviledged to have the job I do. The way our governor is cutting funds in NH, we may go the way of California in the next few years!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Wesley S
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 05:18 PM

Animaterra - I wish we didn't have to move to New Hampshire for our son to take his music lessons from you.

I've noticed the same problem at our church. I perform for the pre-schoolers one a month and I'm astounded at the songs they don't know. At least they won't hear any Barney or Raffi from me.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Wesley S
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 05:21 PM

Excuse me - there's nothing wrong with Raffi. I think the problem is that most kids now think that music is made by "performers" - not real people like themselves.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 06:55 PM

A further quote from the same article:

"Finally, the commmercial music industry that prevails in America has imbued us with an artificial attitde toward music. It would have us believe thet music is something performed by a select few professionals for the benefit of the majority whose function is that of listening. From a historical perspective, music has not been a service rendered by some individuals to others. Rather, it has been a cultural activity in which everyone could and did participate. Today, in many parts of the country, small groups can be found meeting at regular intervals, usually in a private residence, to share their folk music. If music is to play a significant role in their lives, children must be exposed to the idea of creating their own music rather than playing the passive role of listner."

End of Rant, Part II

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 07:16 PM

I think of myself as loving "folk songs" (in the sense used in this thread) as much as anybody.

However, I don't understand the hand-wringing about the phenomenon outlined in the press release.

Times change, educational goals change, cirricula change. Not much to be done about it.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Burke
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 07:33 PM

There was virtually no music program at my school in the 1960's. I didn't learn these songs in school then. Most I learned in scouts or church. Other places I learned them were Kaptain Kangroo, Romper Room.

Why is it that if we see a problem it's the schools' fault? If there's a common culture that's important, why are childern not meeting with this culture outside of the classroom?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 07:33 PM

You don't learn folk songs at school, even if they teach you them. In fact it can take a long time to get over being taught folksongs at school, and find they can mean something to you, and learn them all over again.

I think the best service schools could do to folk music would be to ban it, and say that any kids found singing and playing that kind of music would be in serious trouble. Before long folk music could be as popular among young people as the other things they try to ban.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Jeri
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 08:06 PM

The "Test" DOES have music questions - IF the Department of Education in whatever state wants it. The DoE's decided what will be on the tests based on what they think is important. It should be your DoE who's the target of any rant, but perhaps they just reflect what parents want their kids to learn.

Funny, but I went to gradeschool in the 50s and 60s, and can't remember a single song I learned in school. The songs I DID learn, I learned from my mom, other kids, other kids' parents, girl scouts and church. I never learned the ones in school because we read them out of books, and never had to memorise them. I got basic sight reading education in school, a tiny bit of theory, and education about what different types of music sound like, but the songs all came from my out-of-school education.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Ely
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 09:15 PM

I learned all those songs from my parents ("Goober Peas" is a particular favorite of my dad's). The only son I learned in school that I even remotely remember is "Ghost of John", and that just because I was into ghosts. I know I learned--I hate to admit this--"Eye of the Tiger" and "It's a Small World" in kindergarten but I can't remember them.

Question: how much folk (children's/patriotic/etc) music does the current generation know in comparison to the previous, and how much do THEY know in comparison to the generation before that? Is this a new phenomenon or is it something that has occurred bit by bit with each successive, increasingly media-oriented, generation, and we just now figured it out?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 07 Jun 03 - 02:01 AM

I think Wesley has a very valid point... Bratling has been to festivals and Mudcat gatherings, so she knows that ordinary people, including her mum and dad make music. Ask any one of her classmates if any of their families sing or play anything, and the answer is no. Her classmates think that to sing or play you have to be stick thin, dressed like a tart and gyrating to some mega heavy beat in front of a camera crew.

She also says it's because Mr Brooks (the music teacher) doesn't know any folk songs.

If the children are never encouraged to make music of any sort themselves, or their families are not music makers, then they may never realise what joys (and trials and years of poverty, hard work, bad drummer jokes and anti-melodeon campaigns) await them.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 07 Jun 03 - 07:54 AM

"If music is to play a significant role in their lives, children must be exposed to the idea of creating their own music rather than playing the passive role of listner."

If what some of you say is true, that kids never remember the songs they learned in school, then my job is pointless and I might as well go flip burgers. The quote from the article cited by Bev and Jerry sums up the whole point of my own way of teaching music. My kids may not be the most musically literate in town (though they do get a basic introdution) but every one of them should leave my care knowing that home-made music is fun and important in their lives, and that they are capable of making any kind of music they want, either singing, drumming, beating on recycled percussion!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Naemanson
Date: 07 Jun 03 - 08:02 AM

Folk Music Dying?

Yes, and it has been since the invention of the radio.

What to do?

Keep on singing, in public, whether you are getting paid for it or not. Let people know that folk music is sung without amplification, electicity, producers, backup singers, fans, or any of the other trappings that the "other" musicians need.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Jeri
Date: 07 Jun 03 - 08:54 AM

Animaterra, I would LOVE to disguise myself as a kid and sneak into your class!

I didn't learn songs in school because they didn't teach us the songs. We didn't have any classes like yours. The emphasis was on learning about music, not learning music. I was in the school choir and learned songs there, but that was extra-curricular.

As a result of this, some kids got lucky if they learned songs and sang OUTSIDE of the classroom. Other kids listened to the radio and records and learned songs from them, and were perhaps oblivious to the fact that a person didn't have to sound like those artists to sing in public.

My main point is that music and folk music formal education has always been hit or miss because of the degree the people who make decisions about curriculum care about music. Some school systems are good when it comes to music, some aren't, and some schools within any system are better than others. There isn't any way I can think of to make sure every kid gets the same education unless we can clone you and teachers like you!

Jeri, wondering what sort of disguise I'd need to fool you into thinking I'm just a funny-looking 'new kid'.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Kaleea
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 05:10 AM

I learned many songs of American immigrants--American Folk Music--when I was in school in the 60's. When I taught music in the 80's, the Music textbooks had little or none of the wonderful songs I learned. Therefore I taught the songs, anyway. However, due to all of the above and many more things which make it almost impossible to teach in these modern times, not to mention the aforementioned fact that music is not considered at all important since "Jonny Can't Read" came out, I did not remain in teaching for long. Put simply, I was not allowed to actually teach Music--i.e., give a proper Music education to the students. Therefore, I had no desire to remain in the field of so-called "teaching."
   What can we do? I am quite active in Traditional American & other Folk Acoustic Music in my little corner of the world. I am in an organization in which the purpose is to educate others, promote interest in, & perform Traditional American Music on Folk instruments. We perform Traditional American Music at a variety of venues, give demonstrations in schools and many other places, offer educational workshops monthly, and we support & participate in the regional (& some far away) Traditional Music Festivals. In the state of Kansas, where I live, there are several annual Traditional Music festivals and many opportunities to hear & play our kind of Music. If you look around, you may find that there are such things in your corner of the world. You can always get together with others interested in Traditional Folk Music & start doing something to keep it alive & well!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 05:18 AM

I see several referenecs here to the teaching, intentionally, of American (and American immigrant) folk music as the traditions of the respective communities. Such teaching may be under threat, but it exists.

Is there any equivalent at all in England for English musical tradition? If not, is that cause or consequence of the almost universal English scorn for English folk music and song?

Looks to me, Americans, as if you're better off than we are.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 07:42 AM

There was a series, made with this particular problem in mind, about the English Country Dance - John Kirkpatrick and his family did a wonderful little series that was shown as part of the Schools television programmes (made it very difficult when we took Bratling to see JK in concert, she associated him with dance and wouldn't keep still and we were asked to leave.... won't be going back to see him again in a hurry).

However, the emphasis in Bratlings' school are for seasonal non-religious songs, topic orientated songs and specific songs for any end of term productions (Yellow Submarine for an underwater theme, Summer Holiday for end of year concert, that sort of thing). Any folk songs she learns are 'accidental' or revival stuff from the 1960's and 70's.

There is plenty of opportunity to teach children traditional music, but the best thing to teach them, is the love of music - once you have that, they can look for any sort of music, from Art Thieme to Zadok the Priest, and choose what they want to perform. The more you force a particular variety of musical form at a child, the more likely that child is to veer the opposite way - which is why my school books were full of Handel and Beethoven, and my record collection is full of the Wurzels and Led Zeppelin.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: tooligan
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 11:12 AM

Seems to me that Folk music cannot be imposed on anyone. It is the music of the people and will survive as much as the people want it to. Like it or not the music being listened to, sang along to and danced to by the kids is their folk music. It reflects todays world. The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Britney Spears produced their own brand of music just as Robert Burns did when he wrote 'My Love Is Like a Red Red Rose' The good songs will survive and the majority will be forgotten.

Some of us prefer a particular type of music, that is our choice and we can try and get other people to like it too. Of course it is important to get kids involved in music for all sorts of reasons but it matters not what sort of music they play. Every family has their repertoire of songs they sing on various occasions. Some of them will be termed folk, but may have been written fairly recently and others will be like 'Leaving on a Jet Plane' So which one is authentic?

Here in Fife in Scotland, the New Makaars Trust puts songwriters in to Schools, Old Folks Homes and Community Centres to write songs with the incumbents. Some great music has been made and CDs have been made with the results. "The Singing Kettle" performs to kids in the biggest theatres in the land, breaking all Box Office records in the process. Traditional Music has its own Festivals, Rock Music has its own festivals, we have Jazz Festivals and Blues Festivals. There are clubs and pubs with Karaoke nights where people all sing in the modern way. I don't like it so I don't go. But plenty do.

My own band, Crooked Jack, perform folk songs to holiday audiences, corporate clients, birthday parties, weddings and Traditional Folk Clubs and Festivals. The material is carefully selected but is not necessarily the singalong pub stuff, unless that is what is required for the moment. But it is presented in an entertaining way and is acceptable to most audiences. The entertaining bit is the most important. You can sing anything to anyone and they will decide if they like it or go back to whatever conversation they were in.

The main thing is - keep doing it!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 11:43 AM

OC it is dead! It was invented in California USA by Russian immigrant who barely spoke english and wanted a fast buck.

Now the Internet has provided a more democratic broadcast tool for the
rest of humanity.. apprx 99.9999999999999% of the human race. IOW Put yer stuff on the net if you think you are THAT good.

MP3 and or Video ... depending on your connection to the internet..

They - the media bores are out of luck and you don't have to listen to their crap anymore ..... don't get it, do you?

BTW It was never about who is the best or worst ACCORDING to some twit in an Office in uptown someplace-you'd-never-be or be welcome, nor were the Worldviews of the 90's - 80's - etc wrong or bad or anything, rather more interesting - there ALWAYS were OTHER views including your own, that few could experience or knew anything about.

So when the Muddie here for example tries to sell me a CD of somebody in Kentucky - I don't think 'oh I want to buy that' I think 'where is the site so I can sample this person who the advertiser says is good'

Different and dare I say much easier and cheaper and just... better...


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 11:48 AM

Guest-- thanks! Just what I needed for a grant request!

BTW, the kinds of grants I can get do not fund things like Mudcat-- but perhaps Mudcat can be an EXPENSE item in the grant request... perhaps those of us who work in grant-funded settings can give that some thought....

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Abby Sale
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 12:28 PM

Just a couple of thorts. I once had the pleasure of attending a small-room talk by Isaac Bashevis Singer. Someone asked if he were distressed that he was writing in a dying language (Yiddish.) He answered that if you know anything about Jewish history then you know that there is a great difference between 'dying' and 'dead.'

Same here.

I agree we can help by sharing - encourage song circles, singalongs, etc instead of "performances." Start them yourself, or if you are a performer, step off the stage into the crowd. Turn the passive "audience" into active participants.   When you have kids visit your house, stop in the middle of dinner & sing a real children's song - "Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" or "Hole in the Bucket" or any of hundreds. I've had great success with that.

I'm saddened that school music programs have been cut to crap - yes the notion that one can be "allowed" to sing just for the love of it has lessened - I hear that even in NYC, many attendees fear to sing in song circles unless they are trained performers. But that doesn't necessarily affect the production and spread of folk song.

Perhaps, like some endangered animals, the species will survive in transplanted milieux -- American folksong is big in Germany and the UK, eg.

One thing - the US has long been very rare among developed nations in offering minimal governmental support for folk arts. When you attend political meetings for candidates for office, ASK them about their stand on this. I'm pretty sure they won't have one since no one ever asks. Ask. [You _do_ attend political meetings and challenge candidates, right? Can't complain unless you participate, right?]

We ran a successful national campaign re sapping the Library of Congress' Folk Music services and another here in Florida on similar issues. Sing out! March! Strike! Picket!

Or sit back and complain.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 01:18 PM

The difference is this; time.

Anyway the issue is not *just* about the Folksongs that people know or are *supposed to know* - what am I saying there ... - kinderfolksang ohh yeah ... I don't thunk soo...

It is a small part of something far far larger. Popular consciousness if that means what I want it too ...lol. Oh well, the internet not only removed the need for the Printing Press, it removed the benfits for some parts of society as well. Just one example, I am certain I could find many more, it shows why these are indeed times for radical rethinking of everything from A to Z. It is a time when English Folk Song according to Child could be just one of many accounts all differing about lots of things, including origin etc.

But just for the sake of entertaining a thought that perhaps somebody knows what is going on, I hold on to the erroneous belief that perhaps local ain't that bad, I mean what is so wrong with only knowing the songs sung in my part of Town, say nuttin about ther rest of the County much less the Country or even the World! Mali is great in Mali!

Keep it.

So world access does not mean worldfolk on the contrary the technology
is providing the reverse!

If anything else the lack of knowledge of (Corporate)Folksong is a good thing, it means the Hillbillies can get back to hoes and mules, that folks can be folks again, no haw no heee no shit...


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST,Frankham
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 05:11 PM

I don't think it's about the music dying so much as the people who are dead to it's existence. I think this moves in waves. I believe that in time there will absolutely be another revival of interest.


I see nothing wrong in learning songs from all over the world and looking other than your own neighborhood for musical interest. Traditionally, folk music has been a double-edged sword. It is vital, reflective of it's individual culture(s) but borders on xenophobia. Witness the reactionary bluegrass community today.

When collecting Serbian and Greek folk music, I ran into this kind of narrow thinking. "You guys are taking our music and cheapening it! It doesn't belong to you." As they use to say on Saturday Night Live "If it's not Scottish it's crap!"

Some songs in the Native American community are forbidden to be sung publicly for religious reasons.

Respecting this sacredness, at the same time, I lament it's provincial attitude amoung some of it's practitioners. Why shouldn't outsiders be let in? Who claims that folk music is so "precious" that it shouldn't be "defiled" by the singing and playing of strangers? Answer: Mostly folks with an academic bent.

I like mixed marriages, mixed cultures, mixed races, mixed music...it's far more interesting and likely to create jazz, blues, country music and other spectacular forms.

Solution: Treat all music with respect, understanding and with an intent to learn.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 06:12 PM

All kids learn the music that is on radio or TV and in, general, all of their parents deplore that stuff. We listned to Shaboom, Shaboom and Rock Around the Clock and we still do sometimes.

But, we also learned about folk songs, patriotic songs, and classical music in school. If we hadn't learned about it there we would not have even known it existed.

And, that's what's happening today, at least in the U.S.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: NicoleC
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 09:33 PM

We had some limited music classes in school -- 1 hour every two weeks or so. No instruments other that tamborines and indestructable percussion instruments and triangles and such. Typically, it was horribly dull. On the other hand, we occassionally learned songs in other classes, particularly historical and patriotic songs. It seemed completely natural and unforced, which is probably why I can't remember a single song I played triangle to, but I remember lots of Woodie Guthrie tunes from history and politcal classes :)

Things to do:

-When asked "why music," point out that numerous studies show that kids who study music have better spatial reasoning and significantly better math skills -- and that shows up on those standardized tests. Even in adults, those who study music have an auditory complex (the part of the brain that comprehends and translates all kinds of sounds) as much as 25% larger than those who don't.

-A guitar is cheaper and lasts a lot longer than a computer.

-Donate time repairing and maintaining instruments to struggling programs as a way to help them meet their budgets.

-Schools that can't afford music teacher's salaries might be able to let you hold events in school space after school.

-Especially in inner city schools, the need for quality yet fun after school programs in community centers is critical. Look for ways to volunteer -- and open a participatory music forum that will make the kids interested. Trying to teach Carter Family songs to kids who have grown up on hip hop won't fly... but you might get them interested in the process while giving them what they want to hear and play.

-Support or sponsor local music contests, especially those aimed at high school students -- most of whom now rarely have mandatory music classes of any kind, but they are old enough to decide to make the effort on their own. Everyone loves prizes and winning contests!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 10:39 PM

Folk music isn't dying, it's changing. Just like everything else. We're all "dying" too, but actually, we're just changing. People usually tend to resist change, because they mistake it for death.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: musicmick
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 01:33 AM

The answer to why folk music is dying can be found in some of the replies in this thread. It is lack of understanding of the nature of folk music and its historical and cultural importance and vitality.
Suggesting that folk songs die because they are, no longer, in vogue, is denying the roots and peoples that the songs represent. If the study of history is a valid enterprise, so too is a knowledge of the curtural and artistic artifacts of that history. Folk song and folk tale are vibrant tools of understanding societies that spawned our own.
The "newer is better" brigade are awash in egomanaical gingoism. We are who we are and who we were.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST,Sooz(at work)
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 08:22 AM

In 50's and 60's Britain we learned Folk Songs in school from Singing Together on the BBC Home Service. The programmes were excellent and many of us remember the songs. (The books are available on the web but I can't remember where!)We learned rock'n'roll at the same time from the Light Programme and many of us remember those songs as well. Some of us still sing them (both lots!)There are no rules to say what we remember!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST,jonm
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 09:01 AM

Of course folk music is dying. Kids today are not exposed to it, whether at school, on the TV or at home. It would be impossible to re-introduce folk song and folk dance into the curriculum, since it was lost from the mainstream curriculum a generation ago, and even the teachers don't remember it.

There is no longer respect for tradition - it is seen as something to be improved upon as a matter of course. Modern children have no comprehension of the wealth of national heritage lost to them by their lack of historical knowledge, and the world around them is constructed to prevent them feeling inadequate about it and doing something to change that. When I think of the number of quiz-show history questions I have been able to answer from folk song lyrics...

Children's perception of music and dance has changed. Music is now performed by people plucked from obscurity on a TV show, with no idea of the supporting cast of true musicians behind the manufactured sound. Dance is either copying of choreographed routines from pop videos or shuffling from one foot to the other, swinging the arms gently at the sides (this seems to suffice for anything from Britney to Death Metal). Faced with a live band who invite the audience to get up and dance, kids don't know what to do - which is tragic.

Britain has gone from the highest number of musical instruments per capita in Europe in the 1960's to one of the lowest now.

Music and dance are being transfomed into lite versions of themselves, requiring the minimum effort and input to generate the maximum profit for those involved; commercialism and marketing are taking over.

The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be that the acoustic boom in popular music in the late 90's has grown into the simple rock music of artists like the White Stripes, who pride themselves on how quickly their last album was recorded. Take away the production values (quality is still there, but the costly layers of unnecessary ornamentation) and the computer-generated instrumentation, base the music on live sound and the ability the replicate the performance without backing tapes, on real instruments with the minimum of effects, and the resulting music is not so far from the folk ethos.

If we could just ban folk music and create an underground revival with characters the youth of today might see as trendy (which rules out grey hair, unkempt beards, pot bellies, Arran sweaters, fingers in ears.....) focusing on the songs of real social and historical relevance, there may be hope yet.

In Britain, the fundamental problem is a lack of national identity, continuously eroded by government valuing and promoting other cultures, not as equal alternatives but as better, preferred ones, while denigrating those aspects of British culture which have contributed to our national identity and which are the reason why these other cultural groups have come to Britain in the first place. Until the government acquires a sense of history and cultural perspective, there is little hope for minority pursuits such as our own.

Rant over.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST,Santa
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 09:14 AM

Frankham: no, it is not just academics who decide what songs should or shouldn't sing. It is the people who sing/play them. I refer you to the current Brass Money set, which does include some tunes "lifted" from a British tradition that does not permit its tunes to be played outside of the traditional event.

Go argue the ethics with Carthy and Kirkpatrick.....but the people inside a tradition can be every bit as "selfish" or "restrictive" as outsiders. Not everyone believes that their music belongs to the wrold - they think it belongs to them.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST,Frankham
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 10:38 AM

Santa,

Your argument holds true up to a point. Actually, if people are restrictive about "their" music, there are ways around it. They really can't control it. Don't really know what you mean by "Brass Money". But I know that which is "banned" is often popular.
Witness the rise of so-called "protest" music in the 60's US. Or for that matter, rock and roll and jazz.

As to the academics, often they are trained to keep the status quo. It's easier to study things that way. No pesky changes to interfere with their hypothoses.

The whole folk music revival of the 60's in the US was predicated on the fact that the music was not restricted. It was accessible. So it is and will remain.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST,VINCE
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 11:01 AM

Just a thought.... I can remember bein taught folk songs in the music class at our secondary modern in Middleton, lancs (Bishop Marshall) like Bony was a warrior, the Campbells are coming (ho-ho, ho-ho), Dirty Old Town (not really a folk song but hey?!) Jimmy Crack-corn etc. But it was a few years after that i got interested in 'folk music' by listening to a Bert Jansch and Alex Campbell record of me bruvs and seein the Spinners and then goin to MSG.

I think folk music is and always will be around. It may just need reviving occasionally as in the sixties. But i do agree with the last paragraph of guest jonm about national identity etc. Vin Garbutt recently said (and others have also observed similarly) how when he goes north of the border or to ireland, traditional music can always be found on the radio, whereas here its classed as a very minority interest. Shame! Governmets won't do much but the media could given the will. But the festivals do ok, and a lot (maybe not enough) of clubs and sessions do well so.....that's my pennerth!
Sorry that was a long thought!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST,vince again
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 11:02 AM

Sorry, quick correction....Dirty Old Town is folk song.....its just that we know who wrote it.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST,Santa
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 11:43 AM

Typo. For "Brass Money" read "Brass Monkey" the band. Then the following comments about Carthy and Kirkpatrick makes sense, as leading members of the band.

I don't really claim it as an "argument" as such - just pointing out something that is true. There are indeed ways around it - but are they ethical? What sort of arrogance is it that claims "You play some good music, therefore you must let me play it too."? I might think that open-ness in such matters is a good thing, but does that make it right for me to over-ride the wishes of the creators and owners of the tradition?

Not only a Folk Police but a Folk Fuehrer - you MUST let other people play your tune!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 12:06 PM

I've written to ask for the list that was used. If I get it I will post it and ask Ms. Ward to post her further comments here as well.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 01:22 PM

In some cultures people assumed that the sun was dying every time it set. Then it was reborn the next day. It's all a matter of perspective.

I would sooner anticipate the death of Rap, actually... :-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: NicoleC
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 03:01 PM

I guess that depends on whether you think "folk music" is music made by people, or whether folk music is a set of specific old songs written by dead people.

If you don't allow the concept that folk is an evolving process, then, yes, FOLK music will die, although some traditional tunes will survive in the hands of a few musical historians. Do you want kids to make music, or memorize a few old songs?

Rap music is as evocative and expressive of a lifestyle and set of urban culture as are the slave spirituals. Both were originally developed and performed by people who tended to have little in the way of formal music training and simply made the music that expressed their lives. The only difference is that today it can be packaged and commercialized in a matter of days.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 05:38 PM

I think that it's perfectly ethical to appreciate and play music that others have produced. It's unethical to hoard it as if if were some rare treasure that only an elite can enjoy. The wishes of the creators and so-called "owners" of the tradition surely would include having their output enjoyed and appreciated otherwise why bother to do it? The implication is that the "outsider" is not entitled to participate in the enjoyment of recreating the music of any given culture.

Where it becomes unethical is when credit is not attributed and a sensitivity to the music learned is not respected and observed.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 06:04 PM

Agreed, Nicole, but I still don't like Rap. That's just my personal taste, that's all.

Good post, GUEST, Frank.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: NicoleC
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 06:26 PM

Agreed, LH. I can't stand the stuff; I was just using Rap as an example. Some of the comments which disparage modern music in favor of equating folk music with traditional music miss the point, IMO.

Granted that 99% of the music being recorded today is crap, but I doubt that the ratio was much better 100 years ago. The gems survived because they spoke to people.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Amos
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 06:36 PM

I learned dozens of songs in school -- silly childish ones, like "Tira-Lira-Lira" and weird contrived Victorian numbers like "The British Grenadiers" -- but the real roots of folk music which I soaked up were learned at home, from 78's and 33's.

Folk music is not dying, but it is surfacing through different channels. THings do change, don't they, ducks?

A


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: IanC
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 04:04 AM

Amos

Think you chose the wrong song to call Victorian with "The British Grenadiers". See this thread for more details.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: JohnD
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 04:11 AM

Surely for folk music to survive we cannot simply allow ourselves to become complacent and only look backwards for your repertoir. New music must be created and added to the repertoire. After all, somebody wrote that favourite 'traditional' tune that you like! Lets see more people composing and keeping the traditional music of our countries fresh, then it wont die.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Bert
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 04:44 AM

Well Rich, I think that there are two problems herewhich are being treated as one.

Firstly, Musical education in schools is pretty much like the rest of the education - abysmal. Only about 5% of teachers do any real teaching in ANY subject, Animaterras are few and far between. I was fortunate that our music teacher used to sit at the piano and play folk songs and got boys singing so that he didn't have to teach music.
I learned to love singing, but learned bugger all about music. It's really a general problem with education.

Secondly, Folk music is not dying, it is changing. It always has been changing. Unfortunately we think of folk music as a specific selection of old songs. That is exactly what it is, BUT, that is OUR selection. The public selection changes with time.

Folk songs are really the songs that ordinary people sing and ordinary people mainly sing songs that were popular when they were young. Mass media hasn't really changed anything, it has just speeded up the process so that the bad songs die quicker and we have a wider selection and better access to newer good songs.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Amos
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 08:40 AM

Thanks for the correction, Ian!! My grade-school inaccuracies have stuck with me!

A


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: Fortunato
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 01:00 PM

Blessings upon Bev and Johnny and all those who take music to the schools. It is a rare music or elementary teacher who can go much beyond 'Skip to my Lou', and a steady diet of those old hackneyed songs could put our children right off music altogether.

How does one compete with bare midriffs and pushup bras? Drag you ungrateful whelps to festival and away from the tube.

They may not like it but any day away from the brainwashing they're getting from the media is a good day. Period.

chance


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
From: GUEST,Ron Olesko
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 01:16 PM

Scratch that "period" Chance, it is not that easy.

If you "drag" a child to a festival they are going to be resentful for one thing.   The other is all this crap about "brainwashing" from the media. BS!!!!! I am so sick of people making the media to always be the scapegoat - that is too damn easy and it misses the real problems! The media "brainwashes" in the same way that parents, church, politicans, peers, etc. are involved in "brainwashing".   If a parent can't lead a child to figure out right from wrong for themselves, then there is no hope.

Bare midriffs and pushup bras? Why does the folk crowd need to be denim and flannel?   That is an image that the folkies have created - "brainwashing" their audience the same way that Britney & co. do to theirs.   The "sell" is that each appealed to a specific generation at a specific point in time.   You can't manufacture that - it evolves from the culture.   Perhaps it is groups like Full Frontal Folk that might lead to new audiences.

Ron


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