Tavis Smiley Examines Gustavo Dudamel and the Role and State of Music Education

Tonight I watched the PBS Special Dudamel: Conducting a Life in which Tavis Smiley profiled the young, charismatic Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel, a product of the very successful Venezuelan program “El Sistema” which exposes impoverished children to classical music. The program looked at the broader issue of music education and its role in education reform.

It’s always great to hear confirmation of the concepts and opinions expressed in this forum regarding the benefits of music and music education. Here are a few of the notable excerpts (paraphrasing) from the discussion that I found noteworthy:

  • “It’s not about creating musicians. It’s about creating the sensibilities of an artist that can be used in any vocation.” (Dudamel) 
  • “Sometimes we focus on physical poverty. There’s also a poverty of hope and of dreams. That’s what music involvement gives low-income children.” (Dudamel) 
  • “There are benefits of music education and of sports. In sports, however, a lot of kids sit on the bench. Music programs tend to be more inclusive and more participative.” (Berklee Fellow participating in the program designed to replicate El Sistema) 
  • “I feel like the doors of heaven have just opened up to me. I’ll let out all of my emotions in those drums.” (Young boy involved in a program in the U.S. modeled after the El Sistema program) 
  • “Kids are like a Polaroid. They just need exposure to develop. And they should be exposed to the best in order to develop into complete adults.” (Smiley) 
  • “It’s going to take something radical to reform education. Shouldn’t something so universally accepted as music be a part of that education reform equation.” (Educator)

Play on!

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