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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Dr. Jan and Mr. Raes

The directors of the Concertgebouw Orchestra are called Jan Raes.

One of them, Jan Raes, was a member of a small committee who wrote a report for the Ministry of Education about music education in primary schools. On the basis of that report, the ministry decided to invest 25 million euros in music education the next few years.

Jan Raes and his committee wrote in the report: "The snowball lies on top of the mountain, it just needs a little push". With this rather idiot metaphor Jan Raes meant that music education was really developing well those past few years and only needed a bit of money to get into excellent shape again.

A couple of weeks later, the other director, Jan Raes, published with his nine fellow-directors of the Dutch symphony orchestras a report on the future of the orchestras. In that report, he sketches a grim picture of music education in primary schools: it has nearly vanished. In this report, the other Jan Raes mentions the 25 million euros from the ministry not as the final little push in order to get music education in primary schools back to excellency, but as a first beginning to revive music education.

I wish I could witness the discussions between Jan Raes and Jan Raes after they found out how they differed in their estimation of music education in primary education."We're nearly there, you fool!", bellows Dr. Jan. "Not at all - it is nearly extinct", shrieks Mr. Raes. After which they start throwing snowballs at each other from the tops of their respective mountains.

In the meantime, the poor education officer of the Concertgebouw Orchestra witnesses this raging war between Jan Raes and Jan Raes, and no doubt wonders which one to believe. I don't envy her position.

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