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OT: When Education Attacks


MathOfInsects

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Without going into too much detail, I often find myself the most "educated" member of a group I'm playing in. I don't mean in the obnoxious keyboard-player "No, dummies, that's not V IV I in this case, it's I flat-VII IV" way. My degrees aren't in music theory or performance. But I have sometimes gotten the sense that the mere fact of my education, affects people's impressions of me (anyone) as a player.

 

So I almost never mention it. (Except here, anonymously, now.)

 

Partially, I think there's a sense if that you've gone the academic route, then your musical practice is less "authentic." (Though my letters came later.) And conversely, I think it sometimes creates unreasonable expectation around my (anyone's) playing.

 

Socially, it definitely seems to serve as a point of differentiation. Many people I play with never even went to college, let alone teach at one.

 

So I rarely say anything about it.

 

Sometimes, things will come up that I can't help knowing stuff about. The origins of the blues or jazz, for example, and people's racialized understandings of them. This is stuff I teach, write, read and think about all day long. I dread these moments. Do I come out of the academic closet and get all "In point of fact..." about it, or do I let the same misconceptions I educate others about, roll by among friends?

 

I usually go for some non-committal "There's a cool book about this" contribution, and live with being a dweeb who reads books. But even then...

 

Do other freelancers among you experience this, from either side? Do you dumb it down to ease "suspicion" around your authenticity? Do you resent or judge guys with academic aspirations?

 

More to the point, do you still think it's V IV I in this case? Because it's not, it's I flat-IIV IV.

Now out! "Mind the Gap," a 24-song album of new material.
www.joshweinstein.com

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I would go with IIm9/bII9-5/I13 myself....

 

My steady trio consists of reeds(Ed.D), drums(D.D.S.) and me - keys/bass (B.A.). I keep my mouth shut when it comes to implants and the Danielson vs. Marzano evaluation methods, but since I'm the only chord instrument they take a back seat to reharmonization as presented by ME. Since we basically play standards there's no issues music or knowledge wise. Throughout most of my musical career rarely have I come across elitism or idiotical rhetoric on the bandstand. However, I don't engage in verbal sparring if an opinionated dude is in the band.......I always let my playing speak for me.

 

If they're listening, they'll get it.

 

Jake

1967 B-3 w/(2) 122's, Nord C1w/Leslie 2101 top, Nord PedalKeys 27, Nord Electro 4D, IK B3X, QSC K12.2, Yamaha reface YC+CS+CP

 

"It needs a Hammond"

 

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My bass player told me that my education only means that I can read (music) better than him. When someone holds 7 years of college and 25 years of teaching in that much contempt, why even bother trying to reason with them?

I've spent my professional life dealing with people who think teachers are worthless parasites, and that MUSIC teachers aren't "real" teachers. Which is funny, because I

feel real enough. On the other hand, a teacher colleague (another bass player) came into my music room the other day and said that he'd been watching some online lessons about the Circle of Fifths and that suddenly the musical world made sense to him as though a light had been turned on. So, there IS hope.

 

And, if it's D, C, G, as in the opening to "Sweet Home Alabama", it's V-IV-I. All other things being equal, and if the third chord feels like the tonic, go with the simplest answer.

 

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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Do I come out of the academic closet and get all "In point of fact..." about it, or do I let the same misconceptions I educate others about, roll by among friends?

 

I usually go for some non-committal "There's a cool book about this" contribution, and live with being a dweeb who reads books. But even then...

 

Do other freelancers among you experience this, from either side? Do you dumb it down to ease "suspicion" around your authenticity? Do you resent or judge guys with academic aspirations?

"Don't waste your time arguing with a fool because from a distance, nobody can tell who's who".

 

Do not shrink from or dumb down what you think and/or know. You have the knowledge, skills and ability for a reason.

 

A defense mechanism of the insecure and ignorant is to vilify and minimize others. Be wary in your interactions among them.

 

At the end of the day, "all medicine is not for all patients." Prescribe it accordingly. ;):cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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For balance: Education does not equate with musical ability. I would underplay it, and let your playing do the talking.

 

Regarding music Education: I cannot overlook any opportunity to reiterate that music education over-values harmony, and under-values melody. Those of you who differ, think of blues solos... chords/ harmony is a given, it's the melodic in nature solo, that makes the difference.

Harmony is way over rated.

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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"Don't be mad at a man who knows more than you do; it ain't his fault." ~ Baxter Black

"Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium

  will surely become its signature.

 CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit –

   all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided."
      ~ Brian Eno, 1996

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Regarding music Education: I cannot overlook any opportunity to reiterate that music education over-values harmony, and under-values melody...Harmony is way over rated.

 

For whatever it's worth, this has not been my experience with music education at all.

 

Back on-topic: MathOfInsects, I don't personally think you should ever intentionally hide your knowledge or wisdom just so others feel more secure - but the flip-side is not to use education as a weapon to win arguments...but I've never gotten that vibe from you with your posts here on the forum. Just my 0.02.

..
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Interesting topic...I'd be on the other side of that, I learned by ear (rock only) and still can't read well at all. I think there are some benefits of doing things this way--my son is learning the "right" way but I'm glad to see him thinking outside the box too and using his ear and being creative. I've known musicians that had a hard time doing this even though they had many years of training. But certainly they are non-exclusive.

 

I did experience a bit of feeling over-educated many years ago when I was looking around for internships/jobs where I could use my brand new recording-engineering degree! You'd run into engineers who would really look down on the idea that someone would be fancy enough to go to college to learn engineering. Still boiled down to how you worked and how you worked with others so I tried to let that speak for me.

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Thank you for the very thoughtful responses.

 

To clarify, I don't pretend to be anything I'm not. In many ways, the academic side of me seems like the pretense: I came to it later, and my musical background was more "street level" than many who have spent their careers in academia. Plus my scholarship is on the same street-level stuff: American pop music, particularly where it intersects with perception and race.

 

I just often find it....inconsistent? Dissonant? Suspect? within my bread-and-butter gigs, which are those same street-level genres I've always played. Like, once you've gone academic, you're not rock 'n roll any more. And I wondered if others have found the same tension between "playing stuff" and "knowing stuff."

 

 

Now out! "Mind the Gap," a 24-song album of new material.
www.joshweinstein.com

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I've read that the stigma of academic pursuit and achievement, that weighty albatross hanging from your neck, can be offset or removed altogether by practical application of a few simple ideas.

 

1. Buy rounds of beers. Show up with killer Humdoldt County party favors if that suits everyone's tastes. Bring a kick-ass bottle of single malt to band practice. These helpful tools will cut like a white-hot knife through the butter of awkward social situations caused by educational asymmetry.

 

Or if you're all retired from that stuff, then bring coffee and donuts. Not quite as effective but still works.

 

2. You can be knowledgeable and articulate without having to go full Alan Lomax on the conversation. You can shoot the sh*t about music as a well-versed cat without giving a straight up lecture on ethno-musicology or cultural appropriation as a means of oppression.

 

3. Remember that college or no, most people have some kind of expertise. That expertise needn't (and generally doesn't) interfere with their social interactions.

 

Let's say there's one guy in the band who knows a ton about how to fix up a '69 Corvette. You could still participate in a discussion on that topic without the guy's expertise putting you off, right? You wouldn't be put off unless car-guy starts to get pedantic, aloof or belligerent (from all the whiskey I told you to bring above).

 

Make a visible effort to value the expertise and experience of others and they'll be inclined to do the same for you.

 

Hang out. Converse. Share your cool music stories. Then be a good sport and listen to someone else's cool music anecdote. Don't teach.

 

You've got this. :)

 

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Funny post. :)

 

I'm not looking for encouragement, though. I do fine (according to me). I was just curious if others had noticed the same "education vs authenticity" dynamic in their worlds. This was all prompted by a FB exchange earlier today that made me realize how few colleagues I've told about my "other" life, and that led me to ponder...why?

Now out! "Mind the Gap," a 24-song album of new material.
www.joshweinstein.com

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Some random data points?

 

I am no intellectual slouch, so there's that. No way I can hide it, unfortunately.

 

One band I play in has no less than three PhDs. Not a bad band. Plenty of intelligent viewpoints. It gets old calling everyone "Dr." though. FWIW, it's a Grateful Dead cover band.

 

The other band is led by a career truck driver, and none of the other members could be described as academics. Pure roots and americana.

 

Hint: the second band is the far better band.

Want to make your band better?  Check out "A Guide To Starting (Or Improving!) Your Own Local Band"

 

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I think MOI's question is, are there "non-educated" people you've encountered, perhaps in your bands, that think that educated people can't be authentic musicians? IOW, does an education polish the soul out of you?

 

I've not encountered this but I'd be curious if anyone else has. That's why I (hopefully) restated MOI's question in hopes of some responses.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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There's definitely a stigma around my school in the local scene. It's not at all an issue if you make good music and let that do the talking, as has been mentioned already. But, there are often critical comments and assumptions or demeaning jokes about the "sorta funky sorta jazzy people who play a bunch of scales and debate which one was best rather than thanking the crowd" type of bands that are apparently the only thing that comes out of there. :)

 

I haven't had any problems, because I truly feel I love music at least as much as everyone I've ever met, and it shows. :cool: No one can argue with you when they see that your love of music is bigger than any school in the world. Course, it's always good to feed that love with discovery, learning and improvement, but hey, maybe that's too much to ask for some people, huh? ;)

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I think MOI's question is, are there "non-educated" people you've encountered, perhaps in your bands, that think that educated people can't be authentic musicians? IOW, does an education polish the soul out of you?

 

I've not encountered this but I'd be curious if anyone else has. That's why I (hopefully) restated MOI's question in hopes of some responses.

 

Now that you mention it, I have met well-educated musicians that tend to over-think what they're doing vs. being in the moment. Good music is often primal -- we're dealing with genetic programming that goes way, way back. Not that a healthy intellect can't help, but -- at the end of the day -- it's how people feel about what you're doing.

Want to make your band better?  Check out "A Guide To Starting (Or Improving!) Your Own Local Band"

 

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Don't forget that, speaking about certain comparisons, in the low land bringing spiritual enhancement tools and being prone to buy band members beer isn't exactly the same as being on the good side of potent and educated, and lets be realistic: hopefully attractive (female) singers, or getting actually useful musical advice from good session players, or conservatory dudes and galls with charisma to speak of.

 

If a land is known for it's drizzle and lowliness, a good fraternizing or otherwise satisfying or successful interaction could often better be we the opposite sex, and seldom can be summarized by a well chosen blues or lick, but is rather thought about along the axis of niceties, respect and meaningful semi or fully intellectual talks.

 

Grabbing beer with band mates in circles I've been a bit accustomed to can easily perceived as unprofessional and a bit make-believe.

 

I guess what I'm saying is that for instance in the technical academic circles, partying shouldn't be defined as forget intellectual conversation skills and replace them with stamp collectors logic..

 

T.

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You can be knowledgeable and articulate without having to go full Alan Lomax on the conversation. You can shoot the sh*t about music as a well-versed cat without giving a straight up lecture on ethno-musicology or cultural appropriation as a means of oppression.

+1

 

I've been teaching graduate and undergraduate psychology courses for 17 years at a large Midwest college. I think that being able to break down complex phenomena into simpler, understandable, relatable terms is the essence of being an effective teacher....skills that should spill over to non-academic situations without too much trouble. Couple this with a grounded (i.e., non-condescending), respectful delivery and you're golden.

 

Buy rounds of beers. Show up with killer Humdoldt County party favors if that suits everyone's tastes. Bring a kick-ass bottle of single malt to band practice. These helpful tools will cut like a white-hot knife through the butter of awkward social situations caused by educational asymmetry.

Hang out. Converse. Share your cool music stories. Then be a good sport and listen to someone else's cool music anecdote.

+2

 

Beer, hanging-out, and sharing experiences facilitates an open, comfortable, collaborative social milieu....essential factors in almost any collection of work relationships, creative or otherwise. :cheers:

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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I've read that the stigma of academic pursuit and achievement, that weighty albatross hanging from your neck, can be offset or removed altogether by practical application of a few simple ideas.

 

1. Buy rounds of beers. Show up with killer Humdoldt County party favors if that suits everyone's tastes. Bring a kick-ass bottle of single malt to band practice. These helpful tools will cut like a white-hot knife through the butter of awkward social situations caused by educational asymmetry.

 

Or if you're all retired from that stuff, then bring coffee and donuts. Not quite as effective but still works.

 

2. You can be knowledgeable and articulate without having to go full Alan Lomax on the conversation. You can shoot the sh*t about music as a well-versed cat without giving a straight up lecture on ethno-musicology or cultural appropriation as a means of oppression.

 

3. Remember that college or no, most people have some kind of expertise. That expertise needn't (and generally doesn't) interfere with their social interactions.

 

Let's say there's one guy in the band who knows a ton about how to fix up a '69 Corvette. You could still participate in a discussion on that topic without the guy's expertise putting you off, right? You wouldn't be put off unless car-guy starts to get pedantic, aloof or belligerent (from all the whiskey I told you to bring above).

 

Make a visible effort to value the expertise and experience of others and they'll be inclined to do the same for you.

 

Hang out. Converse. Share your cool music stories. Then be a good sport and listen to someone else's cool music anecdote. Don't teach.

 

You've got this. :)

 

I was going to cherry-pick this....and couldn't. This is really great, and I liked it so much I quoted the whole thing again.

 

While no one should ever feel that they need to "dumb down" or "hide" their intelligence or education, there's many ways of relating to people that make them feel good about themselves and make them feel drawn in to the conversation. Most people have expertise in a number of areas, and most people have great value in different ways. Most people have a good sense of humor about stuff. Most people enjoy good food and drink.

 

Throughout my entire life, I've frequently been one of the most educated people in the room, not because I'm so great, but because I'm a teacher in a classroom with assistants. Yet I've been able to relate to high school students, assistants, and clerical and maintenance staff in all sorts of ways, whether it's discussing/finding out about people's culture, food, countries, background, sports, cars, other interests, humorous stories, previous experiences in the classroom, or whatever. And so it's been playing in rock bands as well, where I'm often the one with the highest education. Doesn't matter.

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2. You can be knowledgeable and articulate without having to go full Alan Lomax on the conversation. You can shoot the sh*t about music as a well-versed cat without giving a straight up lecture on ethno-musicology or cultural appropriation as a means of oppression.

 

Couple this with a grounded (i.e., non-condescending), respectful delivery and you're golden. Oh yeah, and include beer in the social milieu.

 

But try not to use "milieu" too much in conversation. ;):D

 

I'm kidding! I'm KIDDING!!!

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I think MOI's question is, are there "non-educated" people you've encountered, perhaps in your bands, that think that educated people can't be authentic musicians? IOW, does an education polish the soul out of you?

 

I've not encountered this but I'd be curious if anyone else has. That's why I (hopefully) restated MOI's question in hopes of some responses.

 

I've only encountered this on forums, not in person.

 

Then again, anyone who has ever heard me play in person will not ever accuse me of being "inauthentic", particularly since I tend to play psychedelic, strange, experimental, and weird sorts of music, and am often the guy who can do this on multiple instruments.

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(1) An angry fellow once told me "Tom, you're too damn pedantic." I replied "That should be damned pedantic, shouldn't it?"

 

I regained consciousness a half-hour later.

 

(2) For a while, my career was in environmental telemetry, which had me interacting with many highly influential environmental scientists most of whom, unlike me, had multiple Master's degrees and at least one PhD each. At the end of the day, they all gathered around for a beer, just like auto mechanics.

 

(3a) I-VII-IV: Can't Get Enough of your Love

(3b) V-IV-I: Magic Carpet Ride

(3c) Ambiguous: Sweet Home Alabama (Piano solo implies V-IV-I, but Ooh-Ooh-Ooh ladies imply I-VII-IV)

-Tom Williams

{First Name} {at} AirNetworking {dot} com

PC4-7, PX-5S, AX-Edge, PC361

 

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I think MOI's question is, are there "non-educated" people you've encountered, perhaps in your bands, that think that educated people can't be authentic musicians? IOW, does an education polish the soul out of you?

 

I've not encountered this but I'd be curious if anyone else has. That's why I (hopefully) restated MOI's question in hopes of some responses.

 

This one exactly. Thank you for doing a better job of saying it than I did.

 

Still, I'm digging the responses. Funny crew at this place.

Now out! "Mind the Gap," a 24-song album of new material.
www.joshweinstein.com

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Without going into too much detail, I often find myself the most "educated" member of a group I'm playing in. I don't mean in the obnoxious keyboard-player "No, dummies, that's not V IV I in this case, it's I flat-VII IV" way. My degrees aren't in music theory or performance. But I have sometimes gotten the sense that the mere fact of my education, affects people's impressions of me (anyone) as a player.

 

I also am often the most "educated" person in my group. I've frequently played with musicians who either never went to college (let alone graduate school) or simply do not seem very intellectually curious or well-informed about current events. This doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I truly enjoy being around people with different backgrounds.

 

But there is no doubt that my background - like any background I suppose - has affected how I am perceived. Some people have told me expressly that they expected me to play in a conservative, restrained manner, and were pleasantly surprised to hear me play freely or with anything like "soul." They also expect me to be well-trained in music theory when that is not at all true.

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These are some great points. In the band I play in, everyone has a Ph.D. (3 engineers, 1 Spanish, and 1 music) and were all professors. It's cool in that there's no educational asymmetry, and when were making music (or coping with the seven new songs that one of our two ADD members wants to add that week, or where our drummer has wandered off to) the focus is purely on the music. In fact, its a totally different social pecking order, since one of our most accomplished players had trouble with tenure, and the guy with umpteen patents and spinoff companies is the least experienced musician in the rehearsal room its all about the music.

 

When were playing out, though, the rules change. Several times weve been introduced as Virginias most educated band, and maybe its me, but the first couple of songs fall flat after that, as if were putting the usual energy out, but its just being absorbed while customers evaluate as oddities.

 

So, I hear you that differences in socio-economic levels from any source, education being just one, suck if it keeps your bands from relating equally. What makes it worse is that keyboardists do tend to that academic stenotype more than guitarists (one of our guitarists last rehearsal said a song we do in B was a little too high for his voice, and that he wanted us to drop it to A#). Besides the great advice already given, Ive found having a few gag sounds loaded in my keyboard help keep things light during practice. Its hard to be thought of as highbrow when the guitarist puts his foot up on his amp, and you fire off a fart sound.

 

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Cedar -

 

Your post pretty much mirrors my experience, especially this part:

"This doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I truly enjoy being around people with different backgrounds." Verily. I have always found musical collaboration to be a welcome contrast to the cloistered, nerdy intellectual atmosphere at work.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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I'm not above just backing down when someone feels the need to be more right. Interactions sometimes get to a point where it doesn't matter who's more correct - it becomes more about who wins the conversation. No amount of arguing is going to change that dynamic.

 

I don't have the time for that, and I think I'm grown up enough now to just let that stuff be.

 

Another thing - I don't know everything, and I know that very well. I have no idea how to fix up a '69 Corvette, and I'm not ashamed of it. I'm happy to let that person spew their expertise. I'll get to a point where I'm glassy-eyed about it and will admit so, and offer to change the subject to something more mutual or less taxing.

 

Same thing with music and music technology. I know (and care) only so much, and am happy to transition from teacher to student or disengage when the time is right.

 

In my group, the guitar player and I are equals when it comes to figuring stuff out. The bass player pretty much just follows our lead. We both talk about chord changes and mutually agree on what works best. We recently worked on straightening out the chords we use for Dolphin Dance, and, after much interaction, settled on a progression that we feel works best for both of us. Two weeks later he wanted to revisit them, and I laughed and told him to pour another beer for himself. It's all good.

.

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