Friday/Monday — education/inspiration

Apologies for missing my Friday post last week. I’d traveled to do a consulting job that turned out to be all-consuming. I thought i’d have some downtime in which I could write the post, but no. Though of course I should have anticipated that I wouldn’t have time. So my explanation devolves into an apology for something very simple: bad planning.

teaching blogHere’s my Friday and Monday posts combined. A teacher at a music school wrote a Facebook  post about a music appreciation course she’s teaching for students who aren’t music majors. Three things she’s taught have been smash hits with the students: “Britten Young Person’s Guide (video), the last 10 minutes of Wozzeck (audio only!), and group analysis of a top-40 hit of their choice, at least once a week.”

Brilliant choices, I think. And for me they demonstrate two important things. First, that the commonly-expressed concern — I hear this all the time — about how the current generation can’t enjoy music without visual stimulation is greatly exaggerated. Here we have students with no knowledge of classical music loving Wozzeck, audio only.

And, second, that the fear (or loathing) of pop culture that some of us have is also out of line. Here we have students loving both pop hits and Wozzeck. Absolutely typical of the current generation, and anyone who tries to deny that — or disapprove — is both misunderstanding the current world, and putting classical music in great danger.

(Why danger? Because how are we going to reach our new audience if we don’t understand the people in it, and if we approach them by telling them  everything they love is crap? Especially since we’re wrong!)

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  1. says

    Dear Mr. Sandow,

    Classical music is not in great danger – the old standards of measurement and opinion, thankfully, are. As a presenter I’m happy to know about the Met Opera’s productions in the 1920s as a point of history, but that’s all. They bear as much relevance to today as does the typewriter. You seem surprised that younger people are able to listen to more than one form of music, which is a classic (ahem!) underestimation of this generation by our generations.

    Younger generations are not restricted by the boundaries of genre that we were, which is greatly encouraging for a future of much more broad appreciation. Also, the generation born in the 1960s probably represents the last raised exclusively on a diet of tonality.

    Prepare for a much more exciting, dynamic and unrestricted NEAR future of musical imagination and experience. It’s already begun.

    Thank you.

    • says

      Adrian, my friend — you sound just like me. You’re saying what I always say. But it’s not what many influential people in the classical music field believe. My post was aimed at them. What was in it was hardly news to me.

  2. ariel says

    Whistling while passing the graveyard ……..??????? ten minutes of Wozzeck is a novelty and
    means nothing ..when they start buying tickets for Penderecki , Berg, Berio, etc. and actually
    spend evenings with these composers then one can talk the talk , otherwise it is all
    wishful thinking and game playing.

    • says

      Well, Ariel, you have to start somewhere. If you were trying to develop interest in gardening, let’s say, wouldn’t you be delighted if people who swore they’d never touch anything green started nurturing a modest little houseplant? Would you despise them until they spent 10 hours a week in their own garden?

  3. says

    Well Mr. Sandow, I’m gratified to be in your camp. My chamber group works with a high school in Los Angeles and we find the student interaction exhilarating. It’s amazing to watch these imaginations beginning at the periphery of ours. This is just one component of my, qualified, hope. I have no fears for the future for our industry. While there certainly is work to be done, I see the future as brighter than ever. And by future I don’t mean decades hence, I mean next month, next year …

  4. Ariel says

    Mr. Sandow the somewhere is not high school -by then no matter how pleased Adrian Spence
    may be with himself and the” industry” it is almost in the main too late . To call an
    art form an “industry ” is deplorable but one understands from where it comes.
    The pop world is an” industry ” and what people call the classical music world is an art form. What drives them are worlds apart .. the creative pulse is different for each world and to deny it
    is to do diservice to both . It is not whether one world is better than the other it is the matter
    of being able to understand and appreciate the difference and what drives them to being
    what they are . This all should begin in public school , alas our education system is a mess.

    • says

      That’s just silly, Ariel. If you’ve ever talked in any detail with the people who run the big classical music institutions, you’d see that classical music conducts itself as if it were an industry, and that it has to, because of the large amounts of money involved. When you sit with the development director of a major orchestra, and hear her talk about how her department watches all real estate transactions in her city, and examines all probated wills, looking for people with money whom the orchestra hasn’t hit on before — well, that’s just as rapacious as anything that goes on in pop. You should talk to marketing directors, too, and see how classical music institutions think about marketing. Pure commerce. You can argue, if you like, that it’s in pursuit of a higher goal, but the means used — and often the attitude — as the same as what you’d find in industry.

      But I’m sure you don’t talk to these people. What you write comes purely from your own head, and God bless you for it. It’s nice to have imagination.