Be that as it may, music has fled our schools: In California and New Jersey, you can reach twelfth grade without having heard a note of Mozart. At the school concert I attended this month, the students contented themselves with insipid group karaoke from the current hit parade:
'Cause, baby, you're a firework! Come on, show 'em what you're worth Make 'em go oh-oh-oh As you shoot across the sky . . .
Nobody shot across the sky. The performance barely shot across the footlights. But at the end the parents whooped noisily. A song about how uniquely extraordinary you are is given a pedestrian performance but showered with extravagant praise anyway. To my ears, there's a sad desperation about these numbers, but I seem to be in a minority. And the principal alternative to songs about how extraordinarily extraordinary your sweetheart is are songs about how extraordinarily extraordinary you yourself are:
Yeah, yeah, when I walk on by Girls be lookin' like, "Damn, he fly" . . .
Gradus ad Narcissum by Mary Steyn
The mediocre music invades the liturgy as well. One thing I find terribly annoying (after listening to the guitars, drums and four note hymns) is that the congregation claps after Mass for the music group. A celebration of mediocre music. They never clap for the fellows who sing Gregorian chant one Sunday per month. But then clapping is unseemly in church, and Gregorian chant should never be applauded but simply prayed.