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Religious music in public schools: Choralist discussion

Date: Sun, 25 May 1997 09:06:27 EDT
From: artserating(a)
Subject: Religious Music In Schools Summaries

Below are comments and opinions from the many choralist posts I have
in response to my original question regarding inclusion of religious
in public school settings:

"I am sorry your wife has received criticism for what is standard
in the arts - presenting great works regardless of their political or
religious content. Religious inspiration has been the source of some of
western music's greatest artistic accomplishments. Any student wishing
opt out because they are uncomfortable should be able to do so."

"In the musical world, if we remove all references to religion, we would
eviscerate the art and the children would be poorly educated. Contact Ed
Marshilok at NYS Dept. of Ed."

"It is not my place to educate my students religiously but religious
is far too integral to ignore it. What my students believe is NOT
important. It's impossible to educate students in choral music without
singing and performing religious music. Imagine the study of music
Bach, Gabrielli, or for that matter, Faure. Your wife's judgment was
absolutely sound."

"Do we ignore 75% of the historical choral repertoire to remain

"To censor music because of it's specific religious text is to deny our
children and ourselves some of the most excellent music which any
particular civilization or culture produces."

"Teaching purely secular music would rob the students of the opportunity
learn about the vast amount of choral music that has liturgical ties and
would preclude that most early music be absolutely ignored."

In discussing a similar incident, another members wrote
"the vast majority of parents and school Board members saw no reason to
consider the programming inappropriate. It's a sad commentary when a
vocal minority (no pun intended?) ":win the day" by threatening

"To deny the existence of the huge repertoire of choral music with
religious text is sheer folly." Make sure you attempt to cover music
other religious groups for balance."

"There's some sort of legal statement from NYS Dept. of Ed which allows
performance of sacred music provided there's musical value in the piece."

"Studying choral music without singing sacred literature is like studying
architecture without studying cathedrals. Performing a play about murder
does not promote murder. How can you learn about something if you omit
best material?"

"It is unfortunate that the people who are up in arms are not using their
energies against the smut on the air waves."

"Too many musical style periods were dominated by sacred music. Should
altogether ignore the baroque and classic periods because of the relative
lack of secular choral material?"

"I would definitely recommend singing these works in their original
languages though."

INSERT ---- My wife is still kicking herself that she didn't work harder
getting her kids to try to learn the work in French.

Relies continue....

"Do you have to understand what you're singing about? Certainly yes. Do
you have to believe what you're singing about? Certainly NOT."

"The selection of quality repertoire will invariably include within it's
broad scope, music with a sacred text. To exclude from a public school
curriculum all choral music which has a religious meaning associated with
the text is to limit severely the possibilities of teaching for artistic
understanding and responsiveness."

Listers should find and read ACDA Policy Statement 8/93 titled
Study of Music from a Sacred Tradition in the Public Schools

"If schools were to omit material that would be offensive to anyone, most
schools would have to give up teaching Shakespeare."

"These kids should be exposed to liturgical literature. They may pick up
moral ethic or two. To teach kids to perform these works is to teach
to respect for (not adherence to) the sentiments which prompted that
wonderful music to be written."

"Include a disclaimer such as
Performances of this obviously religious music is not in
any way to be construed as support of these principles by

"When I took my first high school choral job in Rochester, NY in 1972, I
asked the Principal during my interview if there were any objections to
doing sacred music there. He answered, isn't most of the great choral
scared? I knew I had found the right district for me at that point."

I hope the statements and opinions above assist any other choralist
with similar situations or questions.

Art Serating

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