It's almost impossible not to be! How are we supposed to recognize the greatness of the Rite of Spring and at the same time be happy that a young spunky pop stars song (that probably wasn't even written by said star) is the most popular song in the world right now? There's no comparison in quality between the two. We have been trained to have critical ears and to listen for the greatest nuances that have ever existed in music. But now we are plagued with a stompy ploddy quarter note melody by Tailored Smift to the words "I wear these clothes. She wears those clothes. I do this one thing. She does another thing...." Simply poetic. Is this what we have to look forward to in music?
Here is what we forget. Sub-par music has always existed. The great writers have always been a very small part of the population. It's just now that in the last hundred years communication has sped up literally a million times over and things are changing and moving much more rapidly. The biggest thing of all though that we tend to forget is that music is somthing that is meant to be enjoyed by everyone. One of the great purposes of music is for us to be able to communicate the abstract and evoke emotion from the listener. Another purpose is also to entertain and create a small escape from reality. These days there are two big divisions of music, music as an art form and music as an entertainment industry.
We should be happy first of all that our students are listening to musc at all and enjoying it. That's the gateway we can use to get them into school music programs. Our next goal then is to communicate that even though they can enjoy the simplicities of current pop culture, there is a whole different world of music to discover that is deep and rich. We are the messengers of the world and we have a responsibility to share the gospel of music as a high art form to those who may have never appreceated it before. How do we do that? Beats me. We are still using most of the same teaching techniques and styles as we were nearly 100 years ago. We have fallen behind the times in that regard. It's time for us to get caught up and embrace what is happening while coupling it with the greats of the past.
But another important step in this process is learning not to be so snobby ourselves. We should appreciate pop culture for what it is and how it enriches the lives of everyone we know in some way. That doesnt mean we have to love it all, but at the very least we need to understand its purpose in the world. So every once in a while put away that Alfred's publishing cd and jam out to the radio carefree. Not all music is meant to be dissected, some is just meant to be simply enjoyed. Even if you don't like pop music, you have to recognize that it's popular for some reason. If we as music teachers ignore what is popular in our field for the sake of high art, then our already dwindling profession will be driving the nails into our own coffins.
This is just an open thought, so please COMMENT! Tell me what you think, especially if you disagree.