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Jon Henschen Publishes "The Tragic Decline of Music Literacy (and Quality)"


Jon Henschen Publishes "The Tragic Decline of Music Literacy (and Quality)"

In his most recent Intellectual Takeout article, "The Tragic Decline of Music Literacy (and Quality), music aficionado and independent channel broker-dealer recruiter Jon Henschen discusses the decline of music literacy and participation, leading to an overall decline in the quality of music.

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MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 22, 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Featured on the August 16, 2018 edition of Intellectual Takeout, music lover and independent broker-dealer recruiter Jon Henschen discusses the sad decline of music today, noting how few people can read music, the decline of public school music education, and a resulting decline in the quality of music today.

Henschen opens his discussion by looking at his own grade school years, noting, "I was fortunate to participate in quality music programs. Our high school had a top Illinois-state jazz band; I also participated in symphonic band, which gave me a greater appreciation for classical music. It wasn't enough to just read music. You would need to sight read, meaning you are given a difficult composition to play cold, without any prior practice. Sight reading would quickly reveal how fine-tuned playing "chops" really was. In college, I continued in a jazz band and also took a music theory class. The experience gave me the ability to visualize music (If you play by ear only, you will never have that same depth of understanding music construct.)"

Henschen then takes a look at jazz and classical art forms, observing that they require not only music literacy, but for the musician to be at the top of their game in technical proficiency. He cites the example of Jazz master John Coltrane, who would practice six to nine hours a day, often cutting his practice only because his inner lower lip would be bleeding from the friction caused by his mouthpiece against his gums and teeth.

Continuing on the topic of music literacy, Henschen notes that over the last 20 years, musical foundations like reading and composing music are disappearing. Two primary sources for learning to read music are school programs and at home piano lessons. Public school music programs have been in decline since the 1980s, often with school administrations blaming budget cuts or needing to spend money on competing extracurricular programs.

According to Henschen, besides the decline of music literacy and participation, there has also been a decline in the quality of music, which has been proven scientifically by Joan Serra, a postdoctoral scholar at the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute of the Spanish National Research Council in Barcelona, Spain. Joan and his colleagues looked at 500,000 pieces of music written between 1955-2010, examining three aspects of those songs: timbre, pitch and loudness.

Results revealed that timbral variety went down over time, meaning songs are becoming more homogeneous. Translation: most pop music now sounds the same. Pitch content has also decreased, with the number of chords and different melodies declining as musicians today are less adventurous in moving from one chord or note to another, opting for well-trod paths by their predecessors. Loudness was found to have increased by about one decibel every eight years.

As another proof point, Henschen references an interview with Billy Joel in which he was asked what has made him a standout. He responded his ability to read and compose music made him unique in the music industry, which as he explained, was troubling for the industry when being musically literate makes you stand out.

Pointing to the homogeneity of today's popular music, Henschen reveals that an astonishing amount of today's popular music is written by two people: Lukasz Gottwald of the United States and Max Martin from Sweden, who are both responsible for dozens of songs in the top 100 charts.

According to Henschen, today's music is designed to sell, not inspire. Today's artist is often more concerned with producing something familiar to mass audience, increasing the likelihood of commercial success (this is encouraged by music industry execs, who are notoriously risk-averse).

Returning to music education, Henschen states that in the mid-1970s, most American high schools had a choir, orchestra, symphonic band, jazz band, and music appreciation classes. Many of today's schools limit you to a music appreciation class because it is the cheapest option. D.A. Russell wrote in the Huffington Post in an article titled, "Cancelling High School Elective, Arts and Music—So Many Reasons—So Many Lies" that music, arts and electives teachers have to face the constant threat of eliminating their courses entirely. The worst part is knowing that cancellation is almost always based on two deliberate falsehoods peddled by school administrators: 1) cancellation is a funding issue (the big lie); 2) music and the arts are too expensive (the little lie).

Henschen then postulates the truth: Elective class periods have been usurped by standardized test prep. Administrators focus primarily on protecting their positions and the school's status by concentrating curricula on passing the tests, rather than by helping teachers be freed up from micromanaging mandates so those same teachers can teach again in their classrooms, making test prep classes unnecessary.

In closing, Henschen suggests what can be done, suggesting that musical literacy should be taught in our nation's school systems. In addition, parents should encourage their children to play an instrument because it has been proven to help in brain synapse connections, learning discipline, work ethic, and working within a team. While contact sports like football are proven brain damagers, music participation is a brain enhancer.

You can read the full article here:

When not immersing himself in all things music, particularly jazz, Jon Henschen tends to his business president of Henschen & Associates, a Twin Cities-based firm that matches financial advisors to independent broker dealers.

He has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry and has worked as a registered financial advisor in both the independent and wirehouse channels.
Jon has been featured in numerous financial publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, Reuters, and the New York Post.


SOURCE Henschen And Associates, Inc.

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