"The free play of art is the result of mastery. " --Ernst Fischer, The Necessity of Art

"Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them." --Ladybird Johnson

"...a well-trained ear, a well-trained intelligence, a well-trained heart, and a well-trained hand...." --Zoltan Kodaly


Thinking about arts and tradition

Hey J,

Just saw an interesting post about 'updating' famous artwork, on Dudecraft, one of my favorite sites (http://www.dudecraft.com/2009/11/old-masters-new-additions.html).

Started me thinking about tradition vs. innovation.  About what it means to carry the responsibility of passing on the riches of our cultural heritage with our students.

Do the arts of past eras speak to our kids?   Or is there a need to re-frame the 'classics' with  current style,  in order for our kids to be able to make a connection?

In this instance, this one particular piece that started the questions originally is very familiar.  So the additional artistic overlay, with its juxtaposition of new and old, provides a new perspective on a known work.

It works, to a great extent, because the original art is already familiar.

Looking at it started me  thinking about songs, and the current tendency to market traditional work as 'children's music',  using modern harmonization and instrumentation, and current styles.

 Thinking about fairy tales, and the plethora of 'fractured' or "updated" (read: washed clean of any references to real life) versions.

Wondering if, perhaps, we need to be sure that our kids know the original tradition before springing a modern version on them.    So, for instance, I'm using both a rap version and a jazz version of "Hush Little Baby"  in some classes this month.

 I think I'm going to be sure that the kids know the original lullaby, and hear some traditional versions, before we move on to the new ones.  So that the art they're hearing today is framed by an awareness of its life, yesterday.

And yes, J, you're right: this is similar to the ongoing discussion in the world of fiddle tunes and folk music:  updating seen as the villain ('losing our heritage') or the hero ('preserving great stuff by using it in the living tradition, not keeping it as a museum piece').

Not sure what I think about the whole thing yet, actually.   But one thing I do know: it's thought-provoking.

Hmm.... must be good art.

More, later.

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