From Marie Finnegan, a classical music fan “in snowy Maine” (as she says):
I found your blog this morning and wanted to share a few thoughts. I am a 39 beginning flute player. I played tenor sax back in high school so music isn’t completely new to me. Classical music as an interest is, however. My band instructor wasn’t a great motivator or teacher of classical music. (Actually he lacked many talents and the band sadly shrunk because of it.) Our “band” also lacked a string section. (we were 12 to 20 strong on a good day) I came back to music as an adult because I missed playing. Now I get to play duets with my daughter.
To me I always thought of the audience for classic music as older stuffy types with money. I know that is a stereotype and it is based on my past perceptions. Like I said my interest in classical music is very new. I never really gave it a lot of thought until recently. I had an epiphany that part of the reason I love period movies is due to the music.
I also happened to catch a fantastic show recently on the Ovation channel about the London Philharmonic that sparked more of my interest. It had a lot of behind the scenes info which was fascinating to me. It really brought home the struggles of the orchestra as a group. Then I caught a piece on Ben Zander and was hooked. He made it even more interesting and I loved his teaching style. I now hope to go to Boston to see him conduct someday.
I think to a lot of “regular people” classical music is seen as complicated. I know I see it that way. There are many different composers with different styles and then there are interpretations of each piece by the conductors of each performance. Personally I am thinking about getting the Idiots guide to classical music to help me sort it all out. It is intimidating to us regular (uneducated in classic music) folk and I think forgotten that you don’t need to know the name of the music to enjoy hearing it.
I bet a reality show set in an orchestra would go a LONG way to educating the public about them and classical music. It would teach the people how it all works and let them know why it is important to keep people “in the seats” so to speak. Unfortunately TV is one of the best ways to reach the masses. Obviously movies also help. How many people know the name Mozart because of the Amadeus movie?
Call it nursing the audience if you will. None of use came out of the womb eating steak after all. You have to have a gateway into the music for the beginners to lure them in towards the hard stuff. I think in todays society many people don’t want to start anything they perceive as difficult.
Just some thoughts and ideas from the peanut gallery. I love the blog and will continue to check it out. Even though much of it is over my head.
All of us inside the biz can learn a lot from the new audience we wish we had. So thanks, Marie. And let me stress something — it’s not just that we want them buying tickets. It’s just common courtesy. Let’s speak with the people who get interested in us. Instead of keeping them out with forbidding rules. I know that many of us — most of us? — have learned this lesson, but it can’t be repeated enough.
So in that spirit, I wrote to Marie, and said: If you can’t understand something in my blog, please ask! Which of course goes for everyone else, too. I have to remember that not only experts are reading me.