Thursday, November 30, 2006

Trial by Fire, part 2.

Reviews are not good for the young choir teacher featured in Trial by Fire:

A comment left on this blog:

I watched "Trial by Choir" last night, and not 15 minutes in to the program I recognized Jerome as a Berklee graduate. Not for also being an graduate myself (1983), but for him carrying forward a hostile and nasty manner of "teaching", if you dare call it that, that is common at the college. Not only was it painful to view, but it angered me to see him badger these kids "What chord is this?" when there was no evidence he had taught them the difference between major or minor. Good grief, he appears to fall in to two of the more common Berklee categories - "I can't make it big so I can always teach - bitter" and "I have to tear someone else down to build myself up - insecure". I've sung in my fair-share of choirs and was an original member of the first Gospel choir at Berklee. I know you can lead a group of singers without being a terror, and have a wonderful and cohesive group. If there is a turn-around in his awful attitude I hope to see it by the close of this series.

I was a little surprised at that reaction, but saw a similar response from Charles Henry, who watched the show. (I'm recording it on the DVR but haven't watched it yet)

Then, today, I found these responses on ChoralNet:
  • I wish the program featured a real teacher instead of someone who lacks the leadership skills.
  • About half-way through the show, I've decided that no remote connection with actual musical education exists. The format exists purely to set up as much tension (it's what substitutes for an actual plot today and relieves the networks of paying writers) as possible between singers and director. The director (I use the term loosely) may be a high flying hot shot at Berkeley but teaching does not seem his forte. I'm really disappointed with this and very glad I didn't recommend it to my singers and students. These kids have been brought together musically with zero success. Most good teachers can accomplish more one hour of "real time" rather than the many days this one-hour show covered. . . A good teacher can communicate every bedrock vocal technique a beginning choir needs with Happy Birthday in one hour. The following hours go toward making it better and better and transferring it to the next song. You have to start as a teacher where they are. He isn't where they are. Not only that, he isn't WILLING to go where they are. (He prefers a bunch of teens on their first field trip out of the city to be quiet on the bus, and when they aren't, he whines. Hello??)
  • Call me old fashioned but perhaps setting the "ground rules" BEFORE you take them out for a weekend retreat would have been more successful? Name this chord-major, minor, augmented, or diminished-with no explanation at all? What was the purpose of that? It did nothing but put them on the spot and make them feel even more inadequate than they already did. This made me want to run out and start teaching high school again just to show the public what a good high school choral director is supposed to act like. Very disappointed in this!
More here.

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