Philosophers are right that classical music ennobles our...

Letters to the Editor

June 25, 1998

Philosophers are right that classical music ennobles our children

Though the article "Critics decry violent music," (June 17) raises interesting and important questions it misses the most central points in the debate over music and its effect on our society.

Aristotle said: "Music has the power of producing a certain effect on the moral character of the soul, and if it has the power to do this, it is clear that the young must be directed to music and must be educated in it" ("Politics").

Plato noted: "The business of music should in some measure lead to the love of the beautiful" ("Republic"). And Boethius wrote: "Music is a part of us, and either ennobles or degrades our behavior" ("De Institutione Musica").

Our society is quite simply reaping what it sowed. Parents of today are largely the first generation of adults who were not taught music in schools. These parents and our schools are not teaching our children about their priceless musical heritage. Rather, parents are allowing the values of Madison Avenue, mass consumption and instant gratification to have sway over our children.

When our children do not learn the language of the music that ennobles our behavior and are instead bombarded with other kinds of music, we should not be surprised that they are affected in an undesirable way.

But there is an alternative. There is music that warms the soul, inspires the best in us.

If we as a society find that we want to reject other types of music, our course of action is clear: We must teach, promote and play great music -- classical music.

Insist that your schools teach classical music. Have your children study an instrument, sing in a choir, attend lots of concerts.

And prepare yourself for one of the greatest, most uplifting and positive experiences of your life.

T. Herbert Dimmock


The writer is music director of the Handel Choir of Baltimore.

McGuire's art is an antidote to violence in our culture

In a world where one confronts violence every day in the media and in the arts, it was ever refreshing to be able to view the beautiful, poetic works of art by Ralph McGuire ("Baltimore artists in two exhibits," June 11).

Mr. McGuire's paintings are a reminder of another time and place, and what once was in this country, where one could reflect and have a sense of time, space and quiet.

Mr. McGuire shows his love of life and nature through his illuminating use of color. Viewing this show, one can feel a sense of joy the painter evoked in his simplistic, aesthetic paintings depicting the American scene.

Mr. McGuire's work reflects the naive in American art at its best.

This soft-spoken, gentle, intellectual man should have had the recognition that was given to other famous American artists.

It was truly worth the ride to the University of Maryland University College Inn and Conference Center in College Park to view the art of Ralph McGuire again along with those of his famous contemporary Herman Maril.

Janet Saltzman

Owings Mills

The writer is a founder and past president of the Maryland Art League.

Tobacco bid was tax bill; What's next, Big Mac tax?

The Sun continues to put its opinions on the front page rather than on the editorial page where they belong. I am referring to the article by Jonathan Weisman "Industry painted tobacco bill as tax, power grab" (June 19).

How else can a bill that raises taxes by more than $500 billion be described other than as a tax bill? There are ample laws against teens smoking. I would love to know where the president found the figure of 1 million youngsters' lives saved if this bill had passed.

Cigarettes take decades to kill, and tobacco is a legal substance. If it is so bad, ban it. The politicians do not want to do that; they want to get the money.

What will be next, McDonald's and other fast foods?

D. J. Myers


Language gives opportunity to foreign-born students

Regarding the column by Linda Chavez on bilingual education ("What should replace bilingual education," June 16).

Our family was stationed in France with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. There were at least 13 nationalities represented in the French school our children attended. Students started in "special French" classes six weeks before the fall classes. Their teachers spoke only French, and we spoke only English.

At the end of six weeks, most of the children were ready for integration into regular classes. Others continued in special French for a while or had French classes after regular classes or on Thursday, normally their day off. By Thanksgiving, all were in regular classes or they did not stay in that school and had to make private arrangements or attend a school run by their own country, if there was one.

It was an opportunity, not a hardship.

Doris H. Powers

Bel Air

Need to sharpen the focus on panelist's great films list

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