Monday, September 7, 2009

Study Questions #5: Musical Issues

To accompany the posts Celebrities in Music, Classical & Popular Culture and Child Prodigies


Most of you have grown up after the early years of Michael Jackson's artistic career. But how has he, his music and his dancing affected the music and the musical performers you enjoy today?

What do you think it's like to be a celebrity – whether a musician, a movie star or a sports figure? Are there good-points and bad-points? What are some of these?

What responsibilities do people have when they become celebrities as well as role-models for younger fans?

Reading the post about Celebrities in Music in the 19th Century, how do certain facts and observations about Franz Liszt or Paganini or Mendelssohn or others mentioned relate to celebrities you see today?

Scrolling down toward the end of that post, you can read some unpleasant facts about the personal life and attitudes of the composer Richard Wagner. Even today – especially following his having been the favorite composer of Adolf Hitler and accused of writing the “sound track” to the 2nd World War & the Holocaust – people have serious issues regarding his music separately from his life.

What details of Michael Jackson's life have been brought out in the press after his sudden death this past summer that made people argue whether or not he should be regarded as a great artist?

Can you balance the difference between the private person he was and the public art he created?

How do the lives and career of other famous people reflect the conflicts between the public and the private person? What impact does it have on their careers or their legacy?

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The Younger Generation is usually reacting to the likes & dislikes of the Older Generation. Ask someone in your parents' generation how they reacted against their parents – then ask someone in your grandparents' generation how they felt about the music and fashion and lifestyle of their children (your parents).

How does society today react to popular art from five or ten years ago? Has anything you once liked become something you now think is old-fashioned and you no longer like it? Why do you think this changed?

What are some of the things people your parents age say about the music and movies and TV shows you like?

What are some of the things you say about the music, movies and TV shows people your parents' age like?

If you discover something that is unfamiliar to you, how do you react to it? Do you ignore it, make fun of it, try to figure out what it is? Do you make up your own decision or let other people make it for you?

If something takes a little work to figure out, are you willing to make the effort? How about something you enjoy doing – playing basketball, dancing, playing in a band or learning the rules for a complex new game? These don't just happen automatically: what do you have to do to learn these particular skills?


What similarities do you think there might be between a kid who wants to play basketball and a kid who wants to play the violin?

You might react to someone who does something you can't do with a sense of wonder (“wow, how do they do that?”) or by feeling that they're different from you and maybe not like them for that.

How do you think they accomplish what they can do? How are they similar to you? What things can you do that maybe they can't? How is what they can do similar to what you can do?

How do things you can do define you who you are?