This will stray a bit off topic, but I'll get back to it...
I play tennis seriously, but don't often watch it. Sunday morning I wanted to watch some of the French Open and could not find it on my TV at all. I ended up trying to watch on the internet over my balky connection. After I gave up on that I started to lament that all the things I love in life are dying:
Tennis. Hockey. Playing an instrument. Reading/writing music. Science. Even reading.
I think Dr. J has a point - the multi task world has rendered a lot of things "too involved" for may people, but I think it goes deeper than that. One of Frank Zappa's albums (forget which of his 60 or so it was) had an essay in the liner notes called something like "We chose cheese". Essentially he stated that as a culture we had collectively chosen to take the easy way out. I believe this was the late 1970's...
I believe that this has been going on since before my arrival on this planet - a strong wave of anti-intellectualism. Smart kids are ostracized as "geeks", people don't care to learn subjects that are "hard". Our culture has increasingly become dependent on technology, but fewer and fewer people actually can grasp that technology.
Back to music and pianos in schools. A typical upright piano costs at least $1500, and to have one in every class will quickly become a strain on a schools bugdet. And getting kids to work on learning to play a piano? It seems that in this instant gratification world fewer and fewer kids are willing to invest the effort and develop the discipline to learn such skills. Just the same as fewer and fewer young kids are willing to invest the effort and discipline to learn math or science well. It's just "too hard".
iPods, eBooks, inane Facebook/Twitter/MySpace updates have become more important to a large segment of the population than actually cultivating intellect these days. Some would say there's a conspiracy afoot, the "powers that be" want people to get dumber - I don't think so. I just think that technology has advanced so fast that it's made a lot of people lazy. Sort of like the way pop-music became really vapid in the early 1980's as sythesizers got cheaper and easier to use (ever use an old modular sythesizer? THAT took effort and understanding). And there will be a major come-uppance for our culture for this lack of intellectual effort. I think we're starting to see it already...
As for piano memories - I'm in 2nd grade, already been taking piano lessons a few years and it's nearing Christmas. My piano teacher has had me learn a bunch a carols to play as background for the Winter Recital...in music class at school a girl thinks she's hot stuff and gets the music teacher to let her show he prowess on the piano by playing the main theme of "The Entertainer" with her right hand. I chuckled, and the teacher belows:
"Well Mr. Ardzinski. If you think you can do better, come up and show us!"
She didn't know I was already an accomplished pianist for a 7 year old. I walked up the the piano, sat down, and tried to pick a tune to play - I had about a dozen ready to go for the recital coming up that night at my piano teachers house. After a few seconds the school teacher says "We're waiting..."
And I made my choice. I broke into a complete version of "White Christmas" and the room went silent. When I was done the room broke into applause. And the music teacher NEVER gave me any gruff again!
Something tells me that a situation like that doesn't happen too much in grade schools anymore. That makes me a bit sad.