Digital Services: Giving Every Child a Chance to Know Beautiful Music

Music Education Needs to Be a Click Away
David Gelernter, computer expert and author, on how to use the ‘cloud’ to bring Beethoven to young people
By DAVID GELERNTER
March 20, 2015 12:54 p.m. ET

(Photo credit: Multilingual Living)

Most children learn nothing about serious music in school and don’t expect to learn anything. Outside school, the music world is being upended and shaken vigorously. The ways we choose music and listen to it are being transformed by iTunes and Spotify and other such sites.

To know nothing about Beethoven? That is cultural bankruptcy. That is collapse. It goes far beyond incompetence, deep into betrayal and farce.

We have the raw materials we need to change this state of affairs.

How do we turn these digital services into tools to educate our children?

It would be simple to put together music-learning packages…independent of iTunes or Spotify, that merely link to those sites or others. We create a flock of 10-minute programs and have first-graders listen to each one repeatedly.

[T]he goal is to give every child a chance to attune his mind to seriously beautiful music.

We also have the means of building a great music city in the cybersphere, a central market where serious music comes from all over the world—in performance, in manuscript or in new or old printed editions, in scholarly and popular studies, photos and videos and biographies.

Aside from all that, we have a full-service musical bazaar, where professionals from around the world can hawk their wares and amateurs can have fun, stay up-to-date and learn.

Mr. Gelernter is a professor of computer science at Yale and a former member of the board of the National Endowment for the Arts. His “Tides of Mind: Uncovering the Spectrum of Consciousness” will be published by Norton later this year.

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