I had a pleasant conversation last week with Steve Nelson of the Association of Alaska School Boards while working at their annual conference in Anchorage. Steve manages their 1:1 initiative called the Consortium for Digital Learning. Our discussion was mostly professional and may show up as an upcoming podcast (hear two-part podcast with Holly Jobe, program director for Pennsylvania’s Classroom for the Future project [part 1] [part 2]).
However, we digressed into some common experiences as musicians when we were much younger, playing in a variety of bands. What was odd was that although neither of us can read music, both of us have sons who are master musicians in the more traditional sense — they can actually read sheet music. My son plays the Euphonium and trunbone, and his son plays a wide variety of instruments, but mostly drums.
What intrigued me, especially from our perspectives of learning to play music in the 1960s (don’t think Steve’s quite that old), was that his son has mastered the chops of the swing drummer greats like Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa, by watching them play, via YouTube. When we were young, the best that Steve and I could do was to lift the needle of our record players, set it gently back just a few lines and listen hard one more time. Today, young musicians are able to reach across the decades and watch the greats, study their styles, slow the action, and know the atmosphere. We had only the sound of our increasingly mutilated records, and once a week we could watch Hootenanny [YouTube] to catch glimpses of the folk artists of that time.
Our children can rich back across cultures to witness in brand new ways, the greats of their chosen passions, and then express it in old world ways — his son mastering the drums and playing in swing bands, and my son’s mastering the Euphonium and playing in british brass bands.
About the Author: 35 year educator, programmer, author, and public speaker. Read more from this author