Sunday, March 6, 2022

An Important Reminder


Sometimes, when I have difficulty centering myself enough to find a blog topic, I find myself reading the obituaries in the Baltimore Sun. Today is one of those days. May I commend to you the life of Daniel Finkelstein.

Daniel Finkelstein, an ophthalmologist and medical ethics specialist, dies  Jacques Kelly, Baltimore Sun

Screen shot from digital edition of the Sunday Sun

Dr. Finkelstein began his life in Philadelphia. Both of his parents were doctors. What came next in the narrative of his life is what caught my eye: 

As a young man, he learned music and and played flute and double bass at Lower Merion High School, where he graduated in 1958. He was later a player in the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, where he met his future wife, Ellen Friedman, a flute player.

Flute and double bass. There must be an interesting story behind that.

I’ve selected Dr. Finkelstein’s life story today because it reminds me of how previous generations believed that the both the study of music and the enjoyment of music were valuable parts of a well-rounded life, no matter what field of study one eventually decided upon for a career. Music was considered an important ingredient, a good use of one’s time and efforts.

In recent years I’ve seen misguided parents and sometimes even well-meaning school admin steer students away from music courses in the name of making them “better prepared” and “more attractive to” colleges. We seem to have lost the understanding that music can be an integral part of the cognitive and social emotional development of a human being. 

From my post on the Music and Memory Project:

Look at all the areas in our brains that music can "quicken": hearing, visual, emotional, motor...So, in education: music can be the oxygen which allows the strictly cognitive paper and pencil work to "breathe" into the student and be meaningfully retained, the leavening which allows the learning process to rise, the glue that makes the learning stick. “What Henry Knows”, Village Green/Town², August 13, 2014)

March is Music in Our Schools Month. I have a little something up my sleeve to share with you. (More news on that soon.) Reading about Dr. Finkelstein’s fascinating life reminded me how important it is to stress that music isn’t just for the professionals. It’s for everyone.

So, the thing about Music in Our Schools, the thing that matters most in the long run:  music in our schools never stays just in our schools. Music stays in our heads, in our hearts, in our lives. Music improves our quality of life. Music helps people build relationships with one another. Like Dr. and Mrs. Finkelstein. 

And music goes out into the world to be shared. 

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