Thank you Liam Noble for alerting me to this video…

Consider the notion of embracing difference in learners, an absence of comparison and the centrality of experience.
Krishnamurti’s profound philosophy of education is in direct opposition to the current industrial model of education than not only works against differences in learners/people but has also systematically removed the philosophical aspect of the training of teachers themselves. Teachers used to be educated themselves to integrate a values such as “difference” within every lesson plan, programme of work and curriculum.Today they no longer have time to devise child/student-centred curricula and are instead shackled to the sick paradigm in the name of so-called quality and accountability. Krishnamurti is a voice in the wilderness but a reminder of the true purpose of education.

The great American educational philosopher John Dewey wrote in the early 20th century that “self-realisation is the goal” of education, “creating desire for continued growth”, not the mere acquisition of knowledge and information. This used to be central to teacher-education but chillingly these values have been and continue to be unpopular with government officials, including the highly influential Chris Woodhead (Chief Inspector of Schools in England from 1994 until 2000) who stated that “the words of John Dewey ought to be banned from all teacher-training institutions” (Daily Telegraph, 25 April 1999). Sadly, Head Teachers, Curriculum Designers and teachers themselves are generally corralled into compliance while at the same time the general educational culture is vulgarised by low-level and inexpert discourse in the press and even parents and learners themselves forget the authentic purpose of education and its and humane philosophical themes.

Education, from the latin Educare – to draw out that which lies within.

A choir can literally harmonise our intentions towards celebration, advocacy, affirmation, admission, wonder, hope, grief and ultimately togetherness. It is not only the fact of being together (standing together definitely helps) but the added and magic ingredient of music, of sound and rhythm that seduces us to a state of non-ego where our selfish impulses are appeased in favour of a more thrilling and all-consuming goodness, as all participate in a wilfull manifestation of beauty. This is a collective choice for good!

Hunger for collective expression, intimacy, empathy and healing appears to be possible through singing together. If only more people would sing together, for when we sing, there is always Peace!

Perhaps these two clips below are about collective humanity (thank you to Cleveland and Niall):


Some idle moments surfing YouTube proved to be not so idle when I came across this wonderful performance from Oscar Peterson and Clark Terry…

The unbridled joy of this playing provoked a deep response… All this talk about the death of jazz, oh dear.

It’s time for a reality check and an appointment with our hearts rather than the opinion formers. Can we seriously witness these artists creating such joy and then yield to a musical nihilism? I must chose my words carefully, but can’t suppress the thought that the so-called death of jazz is just a version of “it will never be the same”. Sure, on one level it won’t, Oscar, Bird, Louis, Miles, ‘Trane et al have passed, but might we be confusing the natural passing of time and evolution of an art-form with another perspective – that the essential characteristics of the music are archetypal and therefore timeless? As archetypal qualities (or indeed Platonic Absolutes), joy, swing, groove, pathos and so on can be accessed by every generation of artists, so long as we don’t overly distract ourselves with pity, or dare I say it – vanity.

This is a tad candid, but is there not something wrong when we can’t be inspired by a fully realised expression of joy, whatever the genre, location or date? For the record, in 1959 Panassie and Gautier’s Dictionary of Jazz, 1959 stated that bebop had been “wrongly described as jazz” (page 36). Lets quit our embarrassment and renew our love with this music.

These clips are good too…

I was surfing the website of David Valdez and came across the tributes to and Ph.D about the American jazz educator Charlie Banacos. This man was a very significant figure and worth investigating if like me, you are unaware of his work (see CasaValdez for more information)… Just for starters some of the saying attributed to him:
“If you play with your fingers, you’re dead”
“The fingers are passive”
“The body doesn’t want to stop”
“The body doesn’t like angles”
“Row the boat”
“You feel like a diver by the side of a pool, ready to jump”
“Play with your arms, not your fingers”
“Of course it’s difficult; that’s why they call it an etude”
“Ear training—it’s Zen, not Aristotelian”
“Gain purchase”
“Don’t measure” (as you practice ear training—hear it all at once)
“Piano technique—it’s Aristotelian, not Zen”
“Each note has its own shape as it goes by, like you’re driving by the planets”
“Keep your fingers near the keys, and don’t be afraid to raise your wrist”
“Don’t change the exercises”
“It’s a coordination problem”
“Just because you don’t speak like MLK doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk”
“Think of the numbers, not hand positions”
“Circles, Squares, Triangles -separate them” i.e. one idea after the next, not on top”
“Plan your practicing, or you will be overwhelmed”
“Use all the tensions on the lines; use all the figurations for each voicing”
“It doesn’t matter what finger you use”
“Think like a drummer, using space and range”
“Close your eyes and sit in the audience watching and listening”
“Re: sight reading—it’s a craft, not an art”
“Oh, and do it in all twelve keys.” Kill!
“Divisive rhythm/additive rhythm”
“Elephant with a stick in his trunk” (using it as a guide as you walk/play).
“He’s [insert name here e.g. Mingus, Jerry B. etc.] whacked, but he can play”
“Deep into the keys” (toward the center of the earth and toward the fallboard)

Apparently, he also would stress the following…
“It’s not technique, its timing” —Oscar Peterson
“Practice without accents” —Oscar Peterson
“The body is a rock; the arms are snakes” —Claudio Arrau
“All notes are ‘up’ notes” —Martha Argerich
“Feel the Ground” —Anton Rubinstein
“It’s all about circles” —Chick Corea
“Think of elephants, giraffes and hippos as you play” —Bill Evans
“C fingerings in all keys” —Franz Liszt
“Giant Steps solo in all keys” —George Coleman
“Music is Technique”—Nadia Boulanger
“Practice for the performance” —Chick Corea
“You must be a good draftsman before you can be a great painter” —Bill Evans
“Practicing is pushing a wall—you wake up the next day the wall has moved” —Bill Evans
“Don’t force the keys” —Art Tatum (to Red Garland)
“Each time is different”—Artur Schnabel, upon practicing the same phrase 200 times
“Three hours before breakfast” —Mike Stern
“Enslavement to the notation” —Craig Taubman
“Nothing difficult about it—just hit the right keys at the right time” —J.S. Bach
“You can’t be unhappy and be learning something new at the same time” —Merlin

Olympic Legacy must not be sport.

Having approached the Olympics full of cynicism and frustration at the decimation of arts funding and actual economic reality in East London, I admit to being affected not only by some of the competitive drama and personal stories but in particular by the joy of the crowds and behaviour of all the helpers (volunteers, transport workers, police and soldiers). It appears painfully obvious that people love to rise to the challenge of being good to each-other if only provided with the opportunity, so thank you Lord Coe! The vibe in Stratford was fantastic, which strangely enough is why the Olympic Legacy must not be sport!

I propose simply that the Olympic Legacy should instead be a national commitment to a collective recognition of accomplishment and self-realisation in all fields – sport, the arts and public service etc. The Olympics not only demonstrated individual and national accomplishment in sport but also ritualised the deeper potential for human empathy and connection through mythological references (and mediocre pop music). The fact that so many people “got it” is the important issue and this collective altruistic impulse must surely be extended and harnessed throughout our society, not restricted to the base impulse art of winning and losing. Well done Jessica, but remember the nurses, doctors and violinists too.

Have a look at this, quite synchronistic that the European Arts ministers are meeting in Edinburgh this week… click here