I started reading Richard Taruskin's grand six-volume history of music, and penciled my first question mark on p. xxiii, which proclaims the coming end of musical literacy. Daniel Felsenfeld has already raised questions about this end-time conceit in a NewMusicBox essay. Does anyone have statistics on how many people could read music in 1800 or 1900 versus today? We're always told that every member of the old middle class could read music. But the middle class was rather smaller back then than it is now, yes? American music education is currently in free fall, thanks in no small part to "No Child Left Behind," but Finland has compulsory music education for every child in the country, and if China has even a rudimentary music-education system then literacy will be increasing by untold millions. I'm just wondering. This will be the first of a series of posts on musical literacy, notation, and education. My jumping-off-point will be another NewMusicBox essay, by John Halle. I'll write about Taruskin's book in the New Yorker, if I live to finish it.