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CLASSICAL  November 2005

CLASSICAL November 2005

Subject:

"Why young people don't like classical music"

From:

Karl Miller <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 31 Oct 2005 09:23:52 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (138 lines)

The quotes below came from papers written by students in my freshman
seminar.  The first set came from the assignment, "why don't young people
like classical music." The second set of quotes was from papers responding
to the question, "how should one market classical music."

While many of the responses would seem likely, some seemed like good
food for thought.  From my perspective classical music continues to
suffer from the trends that can be traced to the very beginning of the
marketing of classical music.  I am reminded of the chapter "The Gendered
Phonograph: Women and Recorded Sound, 1890-1930," from the Kenney book,
"Recorded Music in American Life." Basically, classical music is good
for you and that it is marketed in part as a way to suggest that you too
can become "cultured." Then, we have the other side of the coin "marketing
today" which tries to change classical music into popular music, or
what I like to call the watering down of classical music "wall to wall
Pachelbel" or its equivalent "endless programming of the "hits" and music
to clean house by on classical radio.  Ok, I am preaching.

Reading the students' comments I could not help but wonder has anyone
ever considered marketing classical music based on its inherent worth.
It can provide wonderful listening and engage one's mind.  After all,
isn't it art?

I also wondered about educating young people to classical music. 
I remember Lenny's Young People's Concerts.  No endless "Variations
on Pop Goes the Weasel," or the themes from Star Wars.  He spoke about
music on its own terms and did so with great enthusiasm.  He was also
a "personality." I guess what we need is another Lenny.

In closing, I should add that after I handed back the papers, we had
an open discussion about the questions.  I remember one statement in
particular "if you want me to try something, don't ever tell me it is
good for me." Perhaps a reflection of how one was given medicine as a
child?

The quotes:

   Today, people are not taught to think.  Classical music requires
   thought.
   
   No lyrics to help you along to find the meaning in the music.
   
   Classical music is not in the media.  Most people don't even
   know about it.
   
   The lack of peer approval makes it difficult to find someone
   willing to go with you to a concert.
   
   People do not want to have music that makes them think, they
   are in too much of a hurry to listen to a 10-20 minute song,
   let alone, ponder its meaning.
   
   The Society of today wants upbeat, superficial music that is
   pleasing to the ears.
   
   Attention spans are not as long as they were.  People look for
   instant gratification.
   
   Popular music becomes familiar quickly and does not require much
   thought.
   
   In my thirteen years in public school there were many times
   teachers encouraged me to listen to classical music for its
   education value or its profound meaning, but never just because
   it was good music.  While I never found "educational value" a
   good reason to try something that was in every other way unpopular,
   I might have listened more if a teacher had showed a genuine
   enthusiasm about classical music simply as music.
   
   The reality is most people like what they hear the most of and
   that is not classical music.  Not only that, but the little
   classical music people do hear is the same few pieces.
   
   Certain tenets of the classical style include an emphasis on
   reason and form, causing the majority of the music from the
   genre to be purposefully devoid of emotion.
   
   Whole centuries worth of musical styles are ignored for not
   "getting to the point fast enough."
   
   For the most part, people are not able to stop everything they
   are doing to just sit and listen to the music for a lengthy
   amount of time.
   
   Classical music concerts are mostly performed in beautiful
   auditoriums where one dresses nicely, reiterating the fact that
   it is reserved for formal settings.  This creates the idea that
   classical music concerts are not something to participate in on
   regular basis.
   
   Also, most people have been given the idea, through school and
   parents, that music is just a form of entertainment.
   
   Most successful orchestra musicians, directors, and composers
   have been doing what they do for many years.  This has created
   a population of classical artists that are from middle age to
   elderly that have a hard time identifying with today's youth.
   
   Nothing makes sense, how can you be telling a story without
   words.
   
   In classical music you are not able to show your talent because
   you have to stick to the guidelines, if you don't then you will
   be booed of the stage.
   
   
   Marketing ideas:
   
   Make classical music popular music:
   
   Have popular music musicians play classical music in their own
   style.
   
   Don't tell anyone that classical music is good for you.
   
   Include lyrics or visuals to make the music easier to understand.
   
   Make the music shorter.
   
   Advertise heavily on television.
   
   Have celebrities, actors and actresses endorse classical music.
   
   Advertise the music for its ability to sooth you.
   
   Advertise composers as rebels.
   
   Concerts of classical music are generally too formal.  Encourage
   people to wear casual clothing.  Have the orchestra members wear
   jeans.
   
   Most classical music performances are dull.  They seem too intent
   on getting all of the right notes and see less interested in the
   expression.  They want it to sound "like the record."
   
   Have the musicians show some enthusiasm in their playing.

Karl

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