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Coming up on Connections: Friday, January 13th

Jan 12, 2017

Credit NPR

First hour: Poet Sara Holbrook, who couldn't answer standardized test questions about her own poems

Second hour: Music as political speech

Have you heard the remarkable story of the poet, Sara Holbrook, whose work was selected for standardized test questions in Texas? Holbrook took the test designed for seventh graders, and she couldn't figure out the correct answers to questions about her own poems. And she decided to write about it; see here. Her piece has gone viral, sparking fresh discussion about how tests are created, and what it means that the author of a poem doesn't know the answers to questions about her own work -- on a test designed for kids who are 11 and 12 years old. Our guests:

  • Sara Holbrook, poet and author
  • Jayne Lammers, assistant professor and director of the English language arts teacher education program at the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester
  • Maria Hopkins, associate professor and coordinator of learning outcomes assessment in the School of Education at Nazareth College

When the RPO performs Shostakovich's fifth symphony later this month, they will be performing one of the legendary examples of music as political speech. Stalin thought it was a tribute to his regime; almost certainly, however, Shostakovich had threaded a musical needle and was signaling his solidarity to a suffering public. And that got us thinking: what are some other examples of music as political speech? It spans genres, and it's not always as effective as the creator of the music hopes. Finally, we'll discuss whether music can move the public, or if music is more effective at simply reflecting the public's mood. Our guests:

  • John Covach, director of the Institute for Popular Music at the University of Rochester
  • Lisa Jakelski, associate professor of musicology at the Eastman School of Music
  • Terry Smith, head of the Harley School's Lower School
  • Mona Seghatoleslami, host and producer on WXXI Classical 91.5