Sunday, December 12, 2010
Two weeks ago, a student opened her book of music only to comment again, "Ew, that composer's picture always gives me the creeps!" I thought it was really funny that she turned to the inside cover every day, even though her piece is on page 10. I put a tape flag on her page and suggested she simply use the flag and not open the book from the beginning.
This week, she had to show me what her sister had done to her book. She turned open the cover, and there was her sister's picture, completely covering the composer. Smiling broadly, the sibling made both of us laugh out loud. Now, I feel compelled to open this cover every week just to see the cute smiling face of a sister who stepped up to the rescue.
Many composers' photos are embossed on covers of their music. I have often wondered why. If the piece is good, do you want to see who wrote it? Is it important that if the composer is arguably plain looking that you avoid picturing them? Why is a photo even included with a composition? Sometimes the publishers use oil paintings to put a face on a famous composer pre-Polaroid. They are often formal and serious paintings. I don't know if I looked at them much as a student. OK, I might have drawn a mustache on a few, and I definitely remember a pair of glasses on Edvard Grieg. Good grief, right? (I couldn't help it. Feel free to print this and draw to your heart's content...)
Current pictures of current composers could give a sense of connection between the student and the composer, I guess. Seeing that the piece was written by a real human being, man or woman, may add to their enjoyment of the music, but I'm not sure that my students actually acknowledge this person. I have pointed out that the internet is a great way to actually talk to the composer of some of their pieces. The reaction is usually incredulous looks and instant shyness when I suggest that they contact the composer of their favorite music.
What do you think? What do current composer photographs in the music do for students?
(Pictures above are Beethoven, Handel, Mozart, and Grieg, not particularly in that order.)