Monday, June 6, 2011

Frohnmayer Appreciation Weekend - Response

My previous post describes a wonderful event this past weekend (June 3-5) at Loyola University New Orleans--Frohnmayer Appreciation Weekend--held to honor Phil and Ellen Frohnmayer, beloved voice professors in Loyola's College of Music & Fine Arts. This post will discuss how I responded to this inspiring weekend and what I learned from it.

My main response to this weekend is JOY! I found myself filled with joy in honoring Phil and Ellen for their nearly thirty-year career of teaching and singing--a career which is ongoing. It was a joy to celebrate with music, food, friends, prayer, and gratitude. It was a joy to see so many lives that have blossomed because of excellent teaching and excellent mentorship. It was a joy to contribute with my presence and with a small contribution to the Frohnmayer Legacy Fund.

Below are some of the thoughts I am left with as a result of Frohnmayer Appreciation Weekend.

MUSIC AND ART IN LIFE. How poor is a life without music and art. How rich is a life surrounded by music and art. Music and art raise the vibrations of joy in our lives.

MUSIC AND ART IN EDUCATION. How stupid, or should I say cruel, to remove music and art from our children's education. Music and art make life worth living. What good is it to make an excellent living if one cannot make an excellent life? What good is to increase one's financial profits if one cannot deepen one's joy? Every child should graduate from high school knowing how to read music, to sing a melody on pitch, to harmonize, and to play at least one instrument both in solo and ensemble performance. Every child should graduate from high school knowing how to draw. These things should be part of a basic education for every student in elementary and high school.

LEVELS OF PARTICIPATION IN MUSIC AND ART. Anne Marie Frohnmayer commented, during a conversation this weekend, that we can participate in music at all sorts of levels. She herself was enjoying seeing how her parents' former students were using their music now in their lives. They are doing so in all sorts of ways and at many levels. As Anne Marie said, "You don't have to be Pavarotti!"

What can one do with one's singing? Well, one can take major, minor, or chorus roles in opera performances; one can take major, minor, or chorus roles in musicals; one can be a soloist or chorus/choir member in a community chorus or church choir; one can perform at one's local nightclub; one can perform at one's local coffeehouse; one can be a street musician; one can have evenings of song for friends in one's home; one can sing lullabies to one's children; one can sing for people in hospitals or nursing homes.

These levels are also true for instrumentalists and for music teachers. Instrumentalists, especially pianists, also have the option of accompanying. Music teachers are so important, opening the world of music, not only for the gifted, but also for the average, for example, the piano student of average ability who wants to play for the sheer joy of it. And we shouldn't forget the level of audience--the audience is an essential part of a musical performance.

Everyone can participate in music, art, poetry.

WHOLE-PERSON TEACHING. It is clear that the Frohnmayers teach the whole student and teach from their whole selves. Learning is not simply concerned with the subject matter, particularly when learning involves a skill such as singing or playing an instrument, drawing or painting or sculpting, writing, learning a language. Learning involves a student's body, mind, soul, and spirit. Learning is affected by joy, sorrow, success, failure, gain, loss, health, illness, encouragement, criticism, liking the teacher, not liking the teacher. The Frohnmayers are concerned about all aspects of a student's life, always in an appropriate, not a nosy, way.

Also, it is well to teach as a whole person. Some teachers bring only their teacher selves into the classroom. Other teachers bring their whole selves and draw upon the various aspects of themselves as appropriate in their teaching. The Frohnmayers teach from their whole selves.

APPRECIATION. It is joyful to show appreciation! This is a great benefit of writing! When one writes, one falls in love with the subject of one's writing. It is not possible to write well without closely studying the subject that one is writing about. This close study leads to appreciation and love. I may have appreciated what I am writing about before starting to write, but writing allows me to appreciate and love my subject so much more specifically and fully and deeply.

Well, that was a digression on writing. Just simply expressing gratitude, I find, raises the vibrations of joy.

CELEBRATION. It is joyful to celebrate! We should celebrate as much as possible! It is joyful to celebrate accomplishments--even "small" ones! Celebrating and honoring were such a joy this weekend.

GIVING. It was such a joy to contribute to the Frohnmayer Legacy Fund. It is joyful to give in ways that make a difference in areas that one believes in. I believe in the arts for all, and that is where I want to give.

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