Mr. Geib’s Music Challenge

I always wish I could use more music than I do in my classes. I even have a sign in my classroom from Roseanne Ambrose-Brown that says, “We know an age more vividly through its music than through its historians.”

But in Advanced Placement classes the curriculum was so full that I rarely had time to look much as music.

So, after the AP exams are done in May, I take some time to issue the “Mr. Geib’s music challenge” to my students. What is this challenge?

In essence, it was simple. I think almost all contemporary music is utterly forgettable and will remain unremembered in seventy years. But I don’t really know, as I know not much about the music my students and other youth listen to and enjoy. Hence, the idea of this “challenge.”

So I present a prelude and fugue by Bach, a fantasia by Mozart, and “The West End Blues” by Louis Armstrong, and then I ask students what musician would be the artist nowadays that will rank with them in the eyes of posterity? What genius is making music right now? Who? Where? Show me! Better, convince me. (There must be some, right?)

I give any student who wishes to persuade me ten minutes to show I am mistaken in my comments about music in the 21st century. I give them control of the class. They then show me the music; they play a music video, and then they explain why this is “genius.” We listen.

Few take me up on my challenge, and none has convinced me.

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