CHAPTER 18
Transformation:
Music Education Stories as Told by Hollywood
Melissa Payne
For a text to be popular, it must have a message that resonates
with a wide audience. Diana Crane says that popular films reassure us
that are worldviews are real and meaningful and that we enjoy popular
culture because it makes us feel less alone because others have similar
worldviews and make sense of their experiences in meaningful ways that
connect us (94). In The Hollywood Curriculum: Teachers in the Movies, Mary
M. Dalton says that viewers use the movies to make sense of society
(3). Films teach us who we are, helping construct identity, and also
reflect who we are Dalton 158). Films and Television create “good” or
“bad” teachers to simplify their characters, assuming that the audience
is not able to appreciate the complexity of a real human, who embodies
inclinations to do both good and bad things (Dalton 159). With a simple
formula to determine if a teacher is good (and the opposite if bad), we
can ask ourselves, “Did the teacher have a positive influence on the
lives of students? Develop personal connections? Make the curriculum
applicable to their lives?” William Deresiewicz, in his book Excellent
Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life,
reminds his readers that one must not lose sight of the purpose of an
education, which is, above all else, to enable us to be fully human (79).
For Hollywood, education seems instead to be designed to promote
narratives of individual triumph and simplistic paths toward achieving
it. If, on whole, viewers cannot walk away with a classification of the
teacher in a “teacher” movie as singularly good or bad, Hollywood
assumes they could not appreciate the film.
Though I may not be a particularly gifted musician, I have
always been a big advocate of arts education. I believe that without
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