Monday, February 6, 2012

life and tragic death of recorded music, part 2

Recently I read this lovely article (subscription required, unfortunately) by pianist Jeremy Denk in (but what else?) the New Yorker, and it reminded me to follow up on this post about recordings and music. In the article, Denk describes how the process of recording is inherently stressful and tortured, more so than performance, because of the finality of the product, as well as the expectation and possibility of perfection (in some sense, at least!).

A while after writing that last post I realized a somewhat surprising fact about the recorded music that I love and cherish: it is, almost without exception, all recorded before 1985.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


For about half of a (school) year now, I've been teaching math at a private school in CT. How to teach math is kind of a hot topic, what with the school reform movement and the lagging achievement by Americans in the sciences. So far, I've struggled to accommodate, or consolidate, two basic philosophies about how children should learn math. It's made for quite a tumultuous experience! I'd say, on average, I spontaneously re-think the lower school math curriculum at least on a monthly basis.

On the one hand, there's the Tiger-mother-inspired, "achievement"-oriented approach to math instruction, which is based largely on the theory that kids—for the most part—learn unconsciously, and need to practice something in order to acquire a certain skill level. On this theory, math is something not to be too much enjoyed, but to be drilled and internalized. It is, in another words, a set of basic skills involving numbers and computations that, once practiced and learned, will set a solid foundation for future quantitative endeavors.

On the other side of the coin, we have the idealist philosophy on math instruction.