Education
Outwork
John Cage
J-S Bach
John Zorn
Deconstruction










×

Teaching a Supplement

[1] Teaching and learning jazz music at a music school. Participating (as a teacher or a student) in the Jazz School of the Rotterdam School of Music (SKVR). Teaching adults. Teaching adults who have no intention of becoming professional musicians. Teaching adults jazz music in their leisure-time. I would call this supplementary teaching, or teaching a supplement. A supplement, an addition or addendum, an appendage or appendix. Something added to supply the deficiencies of something else, but also an addition to something that is already complete in itself. For example, teaching music at a music school, which is already an addition to compulsory education. For example, when we call jazz, pop, and rock music together 'light music'. Light music. As opposed to classical or 'serious' music. The hierarchical position is clear. Light music comes as an extra, (afterwards) added to an already complete whole, i.e., 'serious' music. (I must leave a deconstruction of the hierarchy, of the binary opposites, of the full meaning of calling light music the supplement of serious music, of classical music, as both complete and incomplete, for another time, another place.)
A third example. Jazz education in music schools is supplementary as well. 'In all European countries, jazz education on the pre-academy/conservatory/university level is at a very low level', and 'The number of music schools that have regular jazz workshops and big bands is by far outnumbered by music schools that do not have jazz education in the curriculum', the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ) concludes at conventions in 1999 and 2000. The teaching of jazz music is an appendage; it is a luxurious (not really necessary) extra in the supply of most music schools, which in themselves are already supplementary.

[2] I turn to adult education now. In Postmodernism and Education, Robin Usher and Richard Edwards argue that education is conceived in the modernist narrative as 'essential to the goal of producing the rational man fit for a rational society' (cf. Education: From Modernism to Postmodernism) . 'The end of man is therefore to complete the work of nature by substituting reason for passion. It follows therefore that once it has done its job, education is at an end' (Usher and Edwards, p.131). If schooling is based on this notion of completion, this has led to the marginalization of other forms and levels of education, for example, education that takes place outside of the pedagogical system, music education at music schools, and adult education. Very often, the latter has been confined 'to 'the ghettos of training' and 'leisure-time activity'. Adult education has been constructed as a supplement, as an adding on to something that is already complete and completed' (Usher and Edwards, p.131, my italics).
Yet, here Usher and Edwards bring in the other meaning of supplement. Something that needs a supplement is not sufficient in its own right. It lacks something that it requires. A supplement reveals the incompleteness of something that needs the supplement. If the supplement needs to perfect something that is incomplete in of itself, the supplement, the marginalized term, becomes important, perhaps more important, than the central term. The central term has a lack and the supplement is necessary to fill it. But supplementing does not only mean adding onto; it also means substituting. A supplement both completes and transforms. Bringing forward the double meaning of the term supplement shakes up the stability of the binary opposites. What begins as a supplement to help something becomes a replacement that threatens the integrity of what it purports to replace (cf. Plato's Supplements) .
Usher and Edwards see adult education as the supplement that both substitutes for and replaces schooling. 'In effect, the self-defined goal of education cannot be realized in schooling. There is no end to incompleteness, and no end to completeness. Schooling can neither have an 'end' (goal or purpose), nor can itself be an 'end' (terminus)' (Usher and Edwards, p.131). (School is being replaced by continuing education. In disciplinary societies, one is always starting all over again (as one goes from school to barracks, from barracks to factory), while in control societies one never finishes anything, Deleuze writes in Negotiations, p.179.) What adult education replaces in the first place (rather than simply adding on to) is, according to Usher and Edwards, 'a cognitive mastery of knowledge-based skills'. I am not sure if Usher and Edwards are ignoring here the increasing attention for non-cognitive knowledge in primary and secondary schools (at least in The Netherlands), but what they say certainly goes for (amateur) (adult) music education. Although cognitive knowledge and the learning of skills are part of (amateur) (adult) music education to be sure, this is not the main goal. Perhaps one could even say that there is no goal, at least not in the modernist sense described above. I will dwell upon this a little longer.

[3] The boundaries within which learning is thought to take place are broken down. Value is given to the learning that 'takes place outside of formally structured education and training opportunities and in the cultivation of difference in the diverse interpretations of the lifeworlds that people articulate. There is an acceptance within experiential learning of the investment of meaning, of desire, in the particular stances people adopt' (Usher and Edwards, p.197). Nevertheless, Usher and Edwards establish that many governments' attitudes toward education are guided by 'a desire to (re)establish (self-)discipline among learners, in order that they become and remain law-abiding citizens ... Having socialized children into (self-)disciplined behaviour, youth and adults are educated and trained into and by the (self-)discipline of labor. In other words, experiential learning is largely circumscribed by employers' needs for particular kinds of labor and consumers' (Usher and Edwards, p.204). Either education is controlled by a government or it is strongly influenced by the power of the market and economics. However, using their words as well as those of Jacques Attali, I would like to show how (adult) (light) music education is marginal, yet impossible-to-imagine-without. As a supplement, it completes compulsory education. But as a supplement, it also supplants compulsory education and has the power to infect it with other (new) ideas.

[4] Contrary to what they write about the disciplining and the goal-oriented functions of education, Usher and Edwards stress that 'there has been a re-formation and re-creation of 'leisure-time activity', such that it is no longer seen as a largely inconsequential and frivolous addition to an already completed educational formation, but an essential aspect of a lifestyle and of the formation of self in certain desired directions ... These activities have no end (goal) since they are their own end, and no end (terminus) since the desire which animates them is endless' (Usher and Edwards, p.132). The logic of supplementarity enables a subversion of the notion of education as complete in of itself. But more important for me here is the insight that leisure time education often has no externally oriented goal. Therefore, it can escape from the circle of calculation of the pedagogic system. It can escape from rational planning and the suppressing of passion by reason. Therefore, it disrupts the explicit attention for reason and cognition in 'modernist' education.
What can these thoughts teach us about adult music education? What can they teach us about the Jazz School at the Rotterdam School of Music? What can they teach us about this supplementary education? It is here that I would like to examine Roland Barthes' and Jacques Attali's thoughts on the transition they observe from listening to music (passively) to making music on a non-professional and non-commercial level. 'There are two musics ... : the music one listens to, and the music one plays. These two musics are two totally different arts, each with its own history, its own sociology, its own aesthetics, its own erotics', Roland Barthes writes in his essay 'Musica Practica'. But whereas Barthes establishes in 1970 that 'concurrently, passive, receptive music, sound music, has become the music (that of concert, festival, record, radio): playing has ceased to exist' and that 'the amateur, a role defined much more by a style than by a technical imperfection, is no longer anywhere to be found' (Barthes, p.149-50), Attali, in 1977, sees emerging a 'new way of making music', a transition from the exchange and usage in music (what Attali calls the era of repeating, the omnipresence of recorded music) to a participation in making music ('the number of small orchestras of amateurs who play for free has mushroomed'), the era of composing, 'a burgeoning of each individual's capacity to create order from noise, outside of the channelization of pleasure into the norm ... the permanent affirmation of the right to be different ...  in other words, to create one's own code and work, without advertising its goal in advance' (Attali, p.132).
Composing is making music solely for the sake of making music, playing for one's own pleasure, 'music produced by each individual for himself, for pleasure outside of meaning, usage and exchange' (Attali, p.137). Attali sees, in this new practice of music, a reconciliation between work and play. In composing, labor is 'enjoyed in its own right, its time experienced, rather than performed for the sake of using or exchanging its outcome. The goal of labor is no longer necessarily communication with an audience, usage by a consumer, even if they remain a possibility in the musical act of composition' (Attali, p.142). This form of production lacks defined goals; labor no longer advances accumulation. 'Composition is inscribed ... in the permanent fragility of meaning after the disappearance of usage and exchange' (Attali, p.147). Exteriority (usage, exchange, goals that exceed the mere making of music) can only disappear in a space in which musicians play primarily for themselves, when music emerges as an activity in of itself. It can disappear in amateur music. It can disappear in the learning of adults who have no intention of becoming professional musicians. These leisure activities have no end since they are their own end. Outside of compulsory education (exterior to the essential term to which it is added), but within the broader sense of education, adult jazz music education (the additional extra, but also an essential extra to that which it supplements because compulsory education is incomplete) can replace or transform the emphasis on cognitive, goal-oriented knowledge and reason.

[5] Yet, composing for Attali goes further than just making music together. The era of composing is 'the advent of a radically new form of the insertion of music into communication' (Attali, p.134). According to Attali, there is 'no communication possible between men any longer, now that the codes have been destroyed, including even the code of exchange in repetition. We are all condemned to silence - unless we create our own relation with the world and try to tie other people into the meaning we thus create. That is what composing is. Doing solely for the sake of doing, without trying artificially to recreate the old codes in order to reinsert communication into them. Inventing new codes, inventing the message at the same time as the language' (Attali, p.134).
The composing Attali strives for, changes the rules. Rather than an exchange of coded messages, composing means participating in collective play in which, in an ongoing quest, new forms of communication without a predetermined program are developed. At the same time as the work, it creates, in common, the codes within which communication will take place. Attali thus stresses the idea that composing is a collective labor: 'What is played is not the work of a single creator; even if an individual's composition is taken as the point of departure, each musician develops his own instrumental part. Production takes the form of one of collective composition' (Attali, p.141).
The principal example Attali uses is that of free jazz. In the afterword to Attali's book, Susan McClary adds New Wave and Punk music as examples. Although neither foremost nor consciously inspired by Attali's writing, 'my composition', Intermezzo, could be regarded as an example as well. Eight composed motifs are taken as a point of departure, but each musician playing Intermezzo has to invent her or his own part time and again. In this process of deciding, (s)he has to listen carefully to the others. What are they playing? Do I 'answer' with the same motif? In unison? One after the other? In a different key? Using different intervals? Or could I answer with another motif? An improvisation? With silence? Perhaps I should brutally interrupt with noisy sound scapes. Intermezzo has no predetermined score, the motifs have no predetermined order; it is created during the performances; each time a temporary result of a collective collaboration, each time a new code, a new set of rules, is invented according to which Intermezzo can be performed. I invite you - here, now - to listen to some results. [Vloeimans and Reijseger, track 2 , Vloeimans and Reijseger, track 17].
What are the effects on my students (adults learning jazz in their leisure-time) when I rehearse Intermezzo with them? In general, these students are accustomed to more conventional forms of jazz music, i.e. theme (A-A-B-A or blues form) - sequential improvisations - theme. In playing Intermezzo, they do not know what, if any, the main theme will be, who will play it, what the overall structure will be, etc. In short, they are confronted with insecurity and instability. There is no pre-established order; they must create the order within every performance, and it will change with every performance.
Insecurity. Instability. Attali describes composing: 'The dangers are immense, for once the repetitive world is left behind, we enter a realm of fantastic insecurity' (Attali, p.146). Composition thus leads to a staggering conception of communication, a communication that is open and unstable. In 'composition', stability is perpetually called into question (cf. Attali, p.147).

[6] Teaching at a music school can be called supplementary teaching. Teaching adults is supplementary. Teaching jazz music is teaching a supplement; better yet, the supplement of a supplement. Teaching free jazz or 'compositions' such as Intermezzo is teaching a supplement to the third power. Each of these teachings supplement and fill the gaps of compulsory teaching, the teaching of classical music, or the teaching of mainstream jazz. It will, however, be clear that this teaching is not a simple addition to an education already complete in of itself. It is added on a deficient education so as to complete it. But as Usher and Edwards indicate, education will never be completed. There will be no end to education. That is one consideration. The other point is that teaching jazz in general, and freer forms of jazz in particular, is a 'dangerous' supplement from the moment it presents itself as the replacement for what should need no replacement. This (kind of) teaching affects and infects compulsory schooling. In one way or another, it questions education's role as fulfilling a clear goal and as such, maintaining a purpose or a mission. It questions education viewed in terms of a compensation for incompleteness so that it can produce people who are fit for society. It questions mastery and control; it questions truth, compulsory education's desired results. It opens a space for another truth; it reveals what is concealed in compulsory schooling. Thus, it can transform that which it substitutes.