Music Is Entirely Subjective Except For Your Final Recital Mark

It’s that time of year again! All around the country hundreds of eminent musicians will take a break from their normally artistic and creative lives so that they can sit behind tables, shuffle scores around, and press buttons on stopwatches. “It gives me great satisfaction when I press that little stopwatch button and it goes beep,” said Dorothy Schnuckle, music teacher. “When that happens, everyone in the room knows that I am still here.”

That’s right- it’s final recital time, when the wheat is separated from the chaff in the sense that wheat and chaff are metaphors for musical achievement and not literally components of grain with varying degrees of usefulness. “I have never sorted the components of grain in my life,” said Sally McNally. “I don’t even work on a farm.”

Students are reportedly breathless with anticipation to find out just what numerical value the last year of their life has been worth. “It won’t be just any old number,” said John Man, music student, “it will be my number. A  number must be given.”

Dorothy Schnuckle has been on a music examination panel for at least seventeen years straight, taking only occasional toilet breaks. She gave us an insight into her process. “Well, take the last recital I saw for example: if that was a film I had to review, I would have given it two stars. If I was marking it out of ten I would have given it something like 5.2. But since we mark out of a hundred, I will probably give it 64. I really don’t think it deserved 65, and that’s my final word on the subject.”

Smiling Jim was also on the panel, smiling. “I just love how all these great young people work so hard,” he said. “It is such an inspiration. They are all winners, really, right up until the moment I assess them numerically and thus impose a heirarchy of value upon them. A number must be given.”

We spoke to Bob Guy, who was deeply upset that he only got 23 for his recital. “My friend got 22 though, so at least I could feel good about beating him. One mark can make a huge difference, you know. It’s not like you can round down from 23 is it?”

Many students say that they take comfort from the fact that in music, unlike other professions, there is no right and wrong answer; what matters is not perfection, but rather the beautiful alignment of creative expression and technical finesse that allows for deeply unique and personal feelings to be transmitted in a universal language that no words can ever hope to match. “Sometimes when I’m writing up my reports I can’t even remember who or what I heard that day,” said Schnuckle. “But a number must be given.”

2 thoughts on “Music Is Entirely Subjective Except For Your Final Recital Mark

  • June 13, 2016 at 9:04 am

    But no one grades the teachers!

    • June 13, 2016 at 9:09 am

      Good point!

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