The power of history

applause blog

The hurricane is on my mind -- the devastation in NY and NJ, which (though this is a minor part of it) hits me, even while I'm safe in Washington. I go to NY weekly, and my normal transportation (for a three-pronged trip, between DC, NY, and my home in Warwick, NY) just isn't available. I'll cope, while my heart goes out to people whose problems are much worse. And meanwhile… One problem we have, when we try to imagine the future of classical music, is that we don't know enough about its past. Take something that ought to be simple -- the … [Read more...]

Still room in my online writing course

talk music blog

I'm ready to teach an online course in how to talk and write about music. As I blogged here earlier! The course will be based on the one I'm teaching this fall at Juilliard. Adapted as needed to what the people who work with me want to learn. Among those who've signed up so far, we have one strongly interested in criticism, and one in blogging. But I'm also prepared to work on bios, press releases, and program notes. And on how to describe music in speech! One thing we'll do is listen to music, and immediately describe how it sounds. I've … [Read more...]


literacy blog

Here's a question I was asked: Will technology raise the level of musical literacy? This came up in a panel discussion, during my visit last week to the University of Missouri. And as I considered the answer, something occurred to me. There's more than one kind of musical literacy. So this is what I said. In classical music, we of course think musical literacy means being able to read music. And, maybe also it means knowing about classical music — the composers, their works, the instruments, important periods in classical music … [Read more...]

A trip, and the new media trap

new media blog

I'll be at the University of Missouri this week, on Thursday and Friday, for a festival called Music and New Media at the Crossroads. Among other things, i'll be speaking on a public panel Thursday at 3 PM, about new media and the future of classical music, along with Matt Haimovitz, Tod Machover, my old friend Tim Page, and members of eighth blackbird, who, along with Matt, would count as newer friends. I'm looking forward to seeing all these people, along with the moderator, Robert Shay, dean of the U of Missouri school of music. Whom I know … [Read more...]

Writing tips

tannhauser blog

Juilliard students these days don't seem to be interested in music criticism, or in music critics. I think that's partly because, if they're like most others their age, they may not read newspapers. And thus don't often read critics. But it's also because they don't think critics do a good job. This continues my previous post, about the course on how to talk and write about music that I'm teaching at Juilliard this fall. And about the online version of it I'm eager to teach, as soon as I get five or six people to enroll in it. I'm happy to … [Read more...]

How to talk and write about music

blue ear blog

That's what my Juilliard course this semester is about. And it's what the course should be called, though this year we adopted a title that's a hybrid of what the course used to be and what it is now: "Music Criticism: How to Talk About Music." Because for many years this was a course about music criticism. But then two things happened. First, fewer and fewer students seemed interested in criticism. I might guess that's because they — like so many people under 40 — don't read newspapers, and thus don't encounter music reviews. But as my … [Read more...]

Four keys — be yourself

be yourself blog

Don't believe anyone who tells you not to be your own artistic self. That follows from the third of my four keys to the future, "Be yourself." I explained this in terms of pandering: Your urgency, your joy, and your passion will draw people to you. But you can't be joyful if you don't love the music that you perform. So never pander. Never struggle to be relevant. Perform music that makes your heart sing. Trust your new audience. Trust it to be smart, to be curious, and to respond with joy when it sees how joyful you are. And that's true. … [Read more...]