In recent weeks, we’ve all seen articles about that sheet music store closing in New York and how classical and jazz music is at an all time low. At the...
In recent weeks, we’ve all seen articles about that sheet music store closing in New York and how classical and jazz music is at an all time low.
At the same time though, music in general is at an all time high – more and more youth are taking music lessons and it’s a wonderful time for youth to be learning music. So much easier than how my contemporaries and I learnt, so much so that I’m a little jealous of my students. It is such an amazing time to learn music.
So what are the “powers to be” doing wrong? Why are concerts attendance low – why are stores closing – why does it seem that only pop music is “winning”?
“The message is the same but the medium is changing” (inspired by Marshall McLuhan)
I did a little research on the music store in NYC that closed – I couldn’t find anything on them on social media – where was their fan page, instagram, etc etc. They didn’t embrace the 21st Century and in the articles I read they seemed to be complaining and blaming the public for their losses. Sadly, I sometimes see an elitist’s attitude in the classical world. They seem to have the idea that because they’re classical and they deserve to be successful or that they’re doing something sacred. Style has nothing to do with quality – quality is about heart and technique.
Community is so important in the 21st Century. People don’t want to deal with strangers, big corporations; they want to deal with real people that they’re connected with. If the store in NYC had built a community, I really believe that they would have survived. The sales of concerts for pop stars at all time high – they do it by creating a sense of community.
I think as well, we need to stop mimicking each other. So often, I will find that artists instead of trying to find their own voice will mimic the greats. This is not just by solo artists too – conductors won’t take chances – they won’t add their own personal touches to music. I tell my students, “I can listen to anyone anytime anywhere now, but how often can I hear you?” Remember the “greats” are greats because they took that chance and that’s why Classical music is “boring.”
As well, one will hear people say: “Classical music is so boring, I hate opera!” I disagree, not if you’re doing it right! A great example of this is what I’ve noticed by attending the Vancouver Symphony. There are more and more young people are attending and regularly too. They doing concerts based on video games, Lord of the Rings, and Bugs Bunny. They bring people in with the familiar but then educate them with the unfamiliar. They’ll play something by a Canadian composer or use fresh interpretations of Mozart, Beethoven etc. I was recently really impressed with Vancouver Symphony’s interpretation of Dimitri Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony. It reminds me of Strauss’ philosophy. Strauss trained his audiences to listen to full on operas by Wagner and people came in droves. He made it fresh and original; it wasn’t a “museum.”(to quote a professor of mine David Squires). Perhaps one might say, it was a different time. It was but remember the message remains the same; it’s how we share it that is constantly changing. We need to educate our audiences. Is that an enlistee’s view, I would say no because then audiences have the knowledge to pick and choose what they like. We need options and knowledge to make an educated decision.
So to conclude: the message is the same but the medium is changing so learn the medium!
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