Thursday, December 10, 2009

Testing with the Stars

A few years back, for reasons forgotten and perhaps better unknown, I started inserting pictures of famous music types into the final exam margins for the two quads (Baroque & Classical) of music history I teach. The tradition began with some of the amusingly coiffed heroes of the Baroque, in pictures lifted from the pages of Norton's A History of Western Music. A year later, these history stars began spouting mostly comforting advice to the inevitably nervous test-takers. Then, last year's Classical Era exam featured some stunningly bad puns from that well-known cast of characters. [NOTE: Bach and Handel actually kick off this quad in my arrangement.]

Remarkably, one of the students who'd endured all of that last Spring wrote the following on my Facebook wall today: " I think I'm going to miss having cartoons on my exams this semester." In retrospect, he may have done this knowing that I couldn't resist the temptation to conjure up a few words of wisdom from the finest the 20th century has to offer. (I don't teach that class, alas.) I happened to be home "watching" the kids, so it was pretty much inevitable that this student (let's call him "Joe") would end up with a little gallery of composerly advice on his Facebook wall. I figured I might as well get a blog post out of all this as well.

Here's the first batch of Baroque sages who, I believe, debuted in March of 2007:

Then, last Spring's "Classical Era" exam featured these highly unoriginal, cringe-inducing puns:

If, by some miracle, you haven't fled this post in pain, here are my little 20th-century additions to the genre, created on this very afternoon:

NOTE: You can reveal the identify of all of the above by clicking on the images - well, except the first 20th-century image has two composers, the second of whom is this guy. The horrible Haydn thing is, of course, a reference to my oft-confessed lack of affinity for Papa Joe.

UPDATE: A new batch from 2010.

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