Letters to the Editor

From the week of December 26, 2002

At any rate, I wish him luck. It's a shame to have a musical voice like his silenced this way.

Robert Leja
via the Internet

Practice makes perfect:I have an offer for Adams County court services supervisor Susan Argo. If she can cover for me for just ten minutes at one of my music gigs, no practice or lessons permitted, I won't complain about her treatment of Durward Minor.

Ms. Argo has denied Mr. Minor's work release as a jazz musician because she doesn't understand how jazz and classical musicians work. Musicians contract for certain hours to perform but work far more hours preparing for those performances. Tax laws allow us to claim legitimate expenses pertaining to practice rooms, because practicing is essential to our livelihood. However, Ms. Argo insists on counting only actual performance hours as work.

Classical and jazz musicians are not analogous, as Ms. Argo thinks, to athletes in their desire for training sessions. The intricate muscle memory involved in rigorous musical technique is an entirely different and more fragile sort of thing. Letting one's chops go for a month can take many times that long to remedy. We must also keep music theory fresh to improvise well. Playing this music is so complex and demanding on mind and body that research psychologists often focus on these kinds of musicians as the best example of the human brain achieving its utmost.

Classical and jazz musicians are analogous to university professors in their preparation time. Professors typically spend only nine to twelve hours a week actually in front of a class. When I teach a university class, I spend many hours preparing for each hour in front of the blackboard. I spend a comparable amount of time preparing for each hour I perform my music, practicing technique exercises, brushing up on difficult spots, learning and transcribing new pieces. If I were a jazz musician, I'd have to spend at least twice as much preparation time. (Yes, playing good jazz is harder than playing good J.S. Bach.)

Ms. Argo apparently referred to "dream jobs," but this view of musicians is based not on actual music gigs, but on pop celebrity status and Pepsi ads. These may unfortunately be the only contacts that some people have with music, but they are only a tiny part of the music world. The seeming effortlessness of good musicians' performances isn't the result of a cushy job's being easy, but of years of dedication.

Ignorantly treating Mr. Minor as if he were some garage-band teenager who couldn't read music is an insult to all accomplished, hardworking musicians everywhere.

Barbara Goodrich, Ph.D.
Golden


Trick or Treatment

The comeback kids: I would like to commend Julie Jargon for looking at the "treatment" of sex offenders in "Arrested Development," her article in the December 5 issue. Sexual offense-specific therapy is still in its infancy, and people should be made aware of the goings-on and the probable damage we are doing to people's lives. (Like it or not, sex offenders are people.) Make no mistake, when therapy for the mentally handicapped was at this stage, society found it acceptable to lobotomize them.

As a victim twice over of sexual abuse -- once as a child -- I would like people to understand that, contrary to what Gerald W. Moore suggests, a victim's life only need be ruined by sexual abuse if he/she chooses. If Mr. Moore's patients are as permanently traumatized as he suggests, perhaps Mr. Moore needs to take a new look at his treatment. While there are a handful of victims who were traumatized to a point from which they may never return, most victims hold the capacity to recover, heal, learn to love and have healthy sexual relations. We do need to be armed with the appropriate tools; we do need to feel safe. But how can we when there are few, if any, facilities truly aimed at rehabilitating perpetrators?

The reality of most perpetrators is one of low self-esteem, depression, anger and a sense that the perpetrator has little or no control over his/her life improving. Most therapists acknowledge this, but instead of focusing on solving these issues, they have a tendency to degrade sexual abusers, attempt to de-sexualize them and actually add to their low self-esteem, depression and anger. There seems to be an attempt to solve the problem by making the root of the problem larger.

Many believe that castration, or de-sexualization, would rid the world of "these people." Such believers are gravely mistaken. There are documented cases of offenders given large doses of drugs, such as Depo-Provera, which is used to suppress the production of the male hormone testosterone and curb sex drive and sexual fantasies, thus virtually castrating the user. Many of these men will still reoffend. Why? Because nobody has solved the larger issues. These men are still filled with low self-esteem, depression and anger. Understand, I am not excusing the behavior of the perpetrator. I am simply trying to focus on the issue in a rational way -- by digging deeper and looking at the whole person, not just the offense.

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