Mozart Makes Babys Smart! Don’t You Want a Smart Baby?
As a person with Asperger’s, I always knew I was smart. As a child, I thought I could be anything until my Lucy van Pelt of a mother put me in Homeschool in 2nd- until 4th grade. I never knew why she did this to me because it felt cruel. Until I learned about the reality of children in gifted and genus programs and how many of them were people like me but were sheltered away because they were somehow more intelligent and more skilled. For a long time as a 5th and 6th grader, I wanted to free all the gifted and genus children like Eliot does the frogs in ET. I would have them come into our special ed room where they felt welcomed and truly help others. I did not know why adults would segregate smart and intelligent children until a woman named Julie Aigner-Clark came into the picture books.
As a depressed Middle School and Freshman in High School my only comfort away from people comparing me to Sheldon and being mean because I did not like Glee or High School Musical, were the shows Man vs Food and Little Einsteins because at least the kids were like me and they were nice to each other! They even inspired an idea for my own comic Struwwelkinder where Klaus plays Leo and makes a play about how Franz Joeseph Hydan somehow, lost his head after he died. The show has even inspired memes and even a trap version of the theme song.
Little did I know that the woman that created a Classic Music franchise was also sponsored by warmonger-in-chief President Gorge. W. Bush during a meeting of various business makers and lobbyists. I knew marketing to children was dangerous at an early age, most ads geared towards children were mostly unhealthy foods and plastic toys with insane prices that no child could comprehend.
However, to market, something to babies that could make them smart sounded like a gag from Rugrats until it wasn’t funny anymore. Journals of Medicine and Pediatrics came out warning parents of the dangers of non-engaging play and giving babies too much screen time and mind you this is before Cocomelon and Elsagate. However, the parents scoffed at it and thought, “What kind of parent wants a stupid baby?” like Angelica Pickles.
However, the Angelica Pickles Paradox brings up something deeper and darker that is sadly not addressed. Wouldn’t a parent love their child regardless of grades and scores on an IQ chart? This is what Baby Mozart, the infamous Your Baby Can Read, and other such programs love promising and preying on. Much like how Autism Speaks thinks ABA therapy is a cure-all for Autistic Behaviors that parents hate. People think Classical Music will make their children smart until sadly they won’t enjoy it when it’s trusted upon them. Great music teachers and educators like Arnold Jacobs and Shinichi Suzuki’s greatest fear was not the children but music educators and parents.
In the Hands of Ignorant Parents
Regardless of any child's passion children need a childhood filled with play, fun, and friendship building. As a child with Asperger’s, I had play and fun with my cousins, but never got any friends because, for a long time, I was homeschooled and told by my Lucy Van Pelt of a mother that because I had Asperger’s I would never make friends. Homeschool looked fun on the surface, and it was not for religious or political reasons either. It was to protect me from other adults and kids that could not understand what Asperger’s was. Every day down in the basement felt like office work yet music, writing, and art felt like the only way I could escape math problems, pasting and printing every state and president.
We would go outside and have fun but then it was back into the basement to do another task every single time to prepare me for school. Even on vacations, my Mom would bring assignments when I just wanted to have fun. At that age, I could still read history books and understand what went on in James and the Giant Peach and other chapter books. Music and Drawing was the only way I could open up and talk to people. Goofishly enough my Mom banned the movie version of Matilda and told me the book was too dark…yet that book and that movie had something I wanted.
In the end, Matilda meets a person who understands and loves all the things she is. At fifteen as a young tuba player, those people were Chuck Russel and Charles Dallenbach of Candian Brass. Really, after seeing a performance of Canadian Brass and seeing all the teaching they do for young brass musicians who wouldn’t want Charles Dallenbach as a father figure?
One time I sent him a fan letter asking for them to do Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Later I got a response and a gift, three airas for a solo tuba with him playing the solos on a tape. The solo I picked to work on was O Isis und Orsis because I was able to do an F scale top to bottom and D minor. I even discovered I could do vibrato which is to make the note sound like the tuba itself is singing. The aira is sung by Sarastro who is the high priest of the Sun Temple and is very overprotective of Pamina to the point where he makes both Prince Tamino and Papageto go through many tasks to prove themselves worthy. He’s Uncle Buck with a hatchet at this point which ends the first act!
However, the aira is sung in the second act when he realizes from the word of another priest that Papageto helped her escape Monstros and Prince Tamino is a good-hearted person working for a very wrong person who wants Pamina back to herself, The Queen of the Night. So he and the other priest pray to Isis and Orsis to give Tamino and Papageto protection for what's to come. It turns out that Sarastro is Pamina’s father who does an amazing Deus ex Machina at the end of the Oprea. The power of the sun blinds the Queen of the Night's henchwomen and Monstros who plan to wreak his temple and crash Tamino and Pamina's wedding.
Over time I saw similarities between my own life and the struggles Pamina goes through with parents who are in constant conflict with each other. Suzuki’s quote about ignorant parents are like two sides of a coin in the life of any student of music or art. The one side is the depressingly realistic parent who says their child is not good enough to pursue music or art, so they need a job they are unhappy and well paid with. Then there are the parents who use their children as tools for trophies and profits without regard to the mental and physical well-being of the child. Another hero of mine was the tubist, teacher, and music pedologist, Arnold Jacobs.
Up with Tezuka Osamu’s Buddha and Temple Grandins Thinking in Pictures, I had a copy of his biography Song and Wind. Song and Wind are for Brass and Wind players like the Eightfold Path is in Buddhism, Song is the mental manifestation of all of a musician's creativity and imagination when they see a piece of music. The wind is what our embrochure, lungs, diaphragm, heart, and body do to make the instrument play a song. Like Yin and Yang, one can’t exist without the other.
I hate it when today's tuba players, especially those in the marching arts and brass corps call the concept of Song and Wind Meat. Without creativity, emotion, thought, and imagination you are left without humanity and more focused on the very thing he warns us all about which is over-perfection and over-analysis! This was something I struggled with, “How do I play and sound like Charles Dallenbach?” however I needed to find my voice which ended up coming from Early Jazz and Volksmusik. Two genres where the tuba is an important player and shapes the identity of both genres.
The tuba is what makes a polka or folk march sound strong and fun and in early jazz people needed to hear a pace and a beat that was loud and the tuba was the right choice. This is the reason why bells similar to the Sousaphone were used as recording bells on tubas like Harold Loffelmacher’s who was the leader of the Six Fat Dutchman the foundation of many Midwest German Volksmusik bands and polkas.
Yet how can you be a Volkmusikant if you are stuck in a world that tells you and forces you to think that to be successful as a musician and teacher you have to have a degree on your wall? Even if you are one there is still elitism and xenophobia in both Classical and Jazz studies that don’t talk about folk music as a foundation of every genre. The tuba is not a niche instrument but an important one for German Speaking immigrants in America. Charles Dallenbach’s parents were Swiss immigrants from Wisconsin and his dad was a band director which meant he did not feel like an outsider in his family like I did. Canadian Brass has done many good things by stepping out into other genres and art forms in the brass world. Their collaboration with Star of Indiana a brass and drum corps laid the foundation of the show Blast which won Toneys, the highest honor for any theatrical innovation.
After years of musicians struggling with Covid, abuse in many of the marching arts, my struggle with discrimination, bullying, and harassment by two band directors and one band, and after quitting music education as a study I felt like Molly does in The Last Unicorn because we need more people like him. Pay attention to what she says, “But where were you twenty, thirty, many years ago when I was new? When I was just a maiden!” Even people who are Asperger’s who people say like being alone still need help and still need supportive people. Where was Canadian Brass when the story of thirteen and more victims of Gorge Hopkins, Morgan Larson, and Mike Stevens came out in the Philly Inquirer, where was Canadian Brass when students had to do virtual learning, where were they when so many musicians felt alone? How many degrees must we have on our walls so we can be teachers and respected as artists? I say this because Canadian Brass are not perpetrators, but victims and bystanders of a system that has been elitist, close-minded, and gatekept for many talented people until they burn out.
The Conseritive Consevitory
When people have made it through the wringer that is High School Band and Orchestra they have two genre choices to choose from, Jazz or Classical? There is so much to learn from both genres and even Romantic Composers borrowed heavily from their country's folk music. For example, the jazz tune Red Wing comes from Robert Schman’s piece Der Frolicher Landsman or The Jolly Farmer Goes to Town, and has been covered by Woody Gthrery, Roy Rogers, and Spike Jones. Mozart even borrowed from a German Christmas carol with a very familiar melody to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star called Morgan Kommt Der Weinachtmann to write a piano sonata. Beethoven’s first movement to the Fifth Symphony is Morse Code for Victory used by Napoleon to take over Germany many years after his Third Symphony or Erotica which was originally commissioned for Napoleon himself. Winston Churchill knew the power of the first movement so he made it an anthem for England's defeat of Nazi Power despite the composer himself being German.
The divide between these genres is so predominant that a Disney Silly Symphony cartoon called Musicland addressed the issue with a double marriage and both genres building a Bridge of Harmony.
However, the story of both genres not coexisting in academia is one of anti-Sentiment, Xenophobia, and Racial Violence than a bouncy Silly Symphony. Jazz, Klezmer, and Volksmusik were emerging in America because of many factors. The rise of the Third Riche in Germany, the Great Migration of African Americans leaving a violent South to Midwestern Cities, and the founding of labor and minority groups like the Kopling Society and NAACP. When both immigrants from Eastern Europe and refugees from the American South became a new Middle Class there was a need for them to have what their parents did not have which was a liberal and secure education.
Yet the Rich Elites who ran large industries and colleges like Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, and others had some very weird and bizarre ideas about what these Middle-Class people were like because this was The Gilded Age. Henry Ford wanted High Schools to Square Dance because in his mind the Jews made Jazz to control African Americans. Andrew Carnegie and P.T Barnum had various indigenous peoples stuffed and displayed like trophy animals in The Hall of Humanity including at The Worlds Fair. John Phillip Sousa wrote scathing essays about recorded music despite he the March King himself being the most recorded and played artist in America. His essay is why we still have dreaded band competitions. So, if you’re a bigot and a racist how are you going to gatekeep students from becoming god forbid…jazz musicians and musicologists!
So they made pamphlets and books that went into nationwide publications like Henry Ford’s essays The American Jew and His Problems, and John Phillip Sousa’s The Menace of Mechanical Music, some even associated the genre of jazz and folk music with alcoholism and impure breeding which to a wise person was hooey and propaganda by the Temperance Movement. However, to an uninformed person who did not have Google to debunk all this nonsense and propaganda made to exploit weak minds, it was hard to prove what was right or wrong in an era of Yellow Journalism where anyone’s nonsense made sense including if it came from elite people deemed to be powerful and intelligent when they were racist and bigoted people with a lot of money.
Sousa and other band directors created band competitions to attempt to bring people in when in actuality they were failures and abysmally boring with terrible lodging and conditions. Music Schools, in turn, were setting students up for failure in real-world applications of musicology by only teaching cantus-firmus and counterpoint instead to teaching how to identify a key in a piece not written by hand, or to hear a scale and chord structure in any tune or song, or using the Circle of Fifth to write and improvise which Folk, Classical, and Jazz composers did all the time. The music audition process and its failure to allow all students' education is summed up by tubist Arnold Jacobs.
“They are poor, especially for the player, I think it is very difficult to have auditions and find a suitable way to judge because we have a great many talented players to choose from. This means a lot of heartbreak for the people who are very capable.”-Arnold Jacobs
Gatekeepers, Terfs, and Trolls!
Sadly I have been attacked for saying this, but in the music world, Two Set Violin and other people of their ilk in Classical Music are not different from people like Ben Shapiro and Mat Walsh. Only instead of targeting Trans People and Minorities they come after musicians and classical traditions of other cultures with trolling and unproductive mockery. This would be like if I dressed up in yellowface, picked up a viola, and insulted them for a living along with other musicians of Asian Classical Traditions and Cannon. Also, they mock people who burn out of the Classical Music Culture much like people in Drum Corps calling people in the non-competitive Marching Art’s Bandos.
What makes their channel more insidious is that they don’t cover issues of dangerous power dynamics and abuse that exist in all performing arts and stand up for victims of such a system that allows the abuse to go on. Abuses like the kind done by directors like James Lavine, Jon Watters, Gorge Hopkins, Morgan Larson, and Marry Porcopio who threatened staff and students, bullied, and discriminated against me. When students and staff are silent about abuse more abuse is allowed to happen regardless of fame or prestige. I know other Youtubers like David Bruce, Adam Neily, The Marching Notes, and Karldrumtech have talked about these bad power dynamics and abuse of power in many of their videos and how it teaches other musicians to do the same behaviors staff and directors do even if it’s wrong. Adam Neily did a video covering how openly discriminatory and xenophobic when talking about music theory and genres of other cultures like it’s the forties and fifties. Even I get xenophobic comments from people in ethnomusicology about a genre that is dying in the Midwest United States which is Volksmusik.
In which we learn that there’s a parallel universe in USA where somehow western Slavs now culturally appropriate Germans.-Gearwatcher
I’m german and to me you sound very, very confused. Polka is a type of dance originating in Bohemia so using it as an umbrella term for all traditional folk music would be wrong. “Volksmusik” however is literally just the german word for traditional folk music. It’s an umbrella term, not some specific genre. That second paragraph literally sounded like something a very far right bavarian politician would spew, your ideas about german music or etymology are as far from reality as they are problematic.-Melonenstrauch
I’m German-Scot Canadian and I know a bit about the prejudice Germans faced after/during the world wars, but I’m thirty and when I was in school we danced the polka in gym class to oompah music. Plus with the focus on Germany for classical music and German language as an option I really don’t feel like the system has been anti-Germany for a while.-DarkHippy
However, it’s not just Classical Music that is filled with elitism and supremacy, the IPA (Internationa Polka Association) is bombarded by messages of Polish Nationalism and Polish American Supremacy most often in German American parts of the U.S making young people like me who enjoy Volksmusik feel alienated and outcasted.
I know what the dangers of this kind of nationalism, elitism, and supremacy do for all genres of music because my Great Oma and Opa Krappmann fled the Third Riche. Pide for your country is good but when a culture openly wants to hide who you are for the sake of Patroitisum is what leads to nationalism.
Many years before my Grandma Lill went into hospice care I showed off music from my iPod which was all different kinds of Volksmusik. One group that made her want to dance again was not German, Austrian, or Polish but Slovenian. Slavko Avsenik was a Sloviean composer and left a huge influence on young musikant with a genre called Oberkrainer which was embraced by many Austrian and German people because of the TV show Musikanten Stadl using Trompenecho or Na Goloci (The Trumpet Flowers) as the opening theme. Also many Volkstmulche musicians' sites Zillertaler Schurzenjager, Die Mayerhoffner, Die Stoakogler Trio, Kern Buam, and Slavko Avesenik as part of their cannon, influence, and repertoire. When people experience dementia it feels like they are going backward in time and part of the healing process until the time comes is through pictures and music from their childhood and teen years. The only way I got my Grampa Bob to stop talking about work with my Dad was not him blasting Led Zeppelin, but Spike Jones’s Red Wing.
“Let's get Ice Cream!” he would shout after an argument about work and we would go to the Richmond Dairy Queen. If he were alive today he would be 91 but now he is up with my Grandmother dancing with him and asking, “What took you so long to komm heir?”. After he passed I made a playlist to honor him and his musical taste from the Six Fat Dutchmen, Johnny Cash, and Walter Soltek who wrote Who Stole the Kishka? My Aunt Karen’s reaction was, “I don’t think this is appropriate” “MITT DER HOLLE!” my Grandma Lill would have said. People die which is a hard fact we all have to deal with but memories and music last forever, imagine the things that are meant to last being taken and replaced with something else that is not freeing or not who you are.
We as young German American musicians are left with a great burden because an older generation that could have taught us more about our culture is dying. Hubert Kern, Franzl Lang, and Harold Loeffelmacher, their music is on record even though they have gone. I had to learn about Volksmusik by teaching myself how to be free from the pain and imposter syndrome that sometimes pops up. People like to think of Volksmusik as happy but it also covers emotions real people feel like death, loss, pain, and lasting grief such as Die Weltverdruss by Kern Buam, and Da Votaleit by Die Stoakogler Trio.
Die Weltverdruss is a German word for The Worlds Sorrows and in the context of the song by Kern Buam the musikanten, the barmaid, the patrons, and tender are open ears to the sorrows of the world much like a therphist. They can’t fix every problem but they can listen and support you as many taverns and inns did for many musikanten. Some people like to think of Music Schools or Drum Corps as a village that raises a child when the parent is gone, however, Covid and the devastation it caused is a musicological disaster for all young musikanten. It’s time now that we become the music teachers we needed as children, to help other children know their genre and culture in music is nothing to be ashamed of, but proud, embraced, and loved which is how music is supposed to be taught!
It’s important for a parent to listen to their child and embrace their accomplishments and too many have treated music as a game for children to win awards and trophies for. This mentality is best summed up in the title of Alfie Kohn's book Punished by Rewards. When my hero Charles Dallenbach was asked by a trumpet player whom Canadian Brass was competing with he gave him the answer, Hockey Night? Music was never meant to be competitive or a sport, it was meant to bring people joy.