How can we keep classical music from ending up six feet under? (Photo by Ben Salter)
There are plenty of saucy articles floating around questioning classical music as a dying art, such as these treasures:
- “Classical music in America is dead” by Mark Vanhoenacke, slate.com
- “Classical Music Is Not Dead” by Matthew Kassel, The New York Observer — “As long as there are instruments and people to play them, classical music will continue on its course.”
- “IS CLASSICAL MUSIC DYING? Journalism in a Minor Key” by Jack Miles & Douglas McLennan, Arts Journal — Are we in remission or recovery?
- “America’s Orchestras are in Crisis: How an effort to popularize classical music undermines what makes orchestras great.” by Philip Kennicott, New Republic
- “Exclusive: Nobel Winner says ‘In the US, classical music is fundamentally a dying art” by Norman Lebrecht, Slipped Disc
- “Mark Vanhoenacke, I have a bone to pick with you” [in response to the Slate.com article] by Andy Doe, Proper Discord
Each of these articles brings up some very good points about the past, present, and future of classical music. So is it dying? And if there is any truth to the conclusion that classical music is a dying art, is there anything we can do to stop it?
HOW TO KEEP CLASSICAL MUSIC ALIVE
I don’t know what all the statistics are — ticket sales, CD and digital music sales, concert attendance, radio traffic — but I do know that the best way to
- keep a plant alive is to water it.
- lose weight is to eat less and exercise more.
- accomplish something is the work hard.
- make friends is to meet people.
- learn an instrument is to practice.
So when you apply this principle of ACTION in the quest to keep classical music alive, the trick to making a difference in the music community is to do something about it.
INSTRUMENTS IN THE HANDS OF THE PEOPLE
At Kennedy Violins we are really serious about keeping classical music alive. That’s why our biggest priority is to get quality instruments into the hands of anyone and everyone who has any desire to play. We try our best to provide instruments, rentals, and lessons at the most affordable price for the quality because we want to give EVERYONE a chance to make music without unnecessary costs as a stumbling block.
I’ll use a gardening analogy. If you want to grow a garden full of produce or flowers or fruits, the first step is to plant seeds. Likewise, if you want beautiful music to be produced in your community, the first step is to get instruments into the hands of the people, especially the children.
Not to say that children are the only one who can play, but the majority of professional musicians who have found success started playing at a young age.
THE THREE ACTIONS THAT PERPETUATE MUSIC
Orchestra concert attendance, ticket sales, and symphony bankruptcies are only a portion of the picture. In the grand scheme, the continuation of music as a lasting tradition is based on three foundational elements:
- Education – In order for music to be produced, musicians must be taught music performance, theory, and history.
- Performance – In order for music to be produced, musicians must perform what they have learned.
- Listening – In order for music to be appreciated, it must be listened to by people who care.
With that said, there are SO many ways to promote the ongoing exercise of these three foundational elements. I would encourage everyone to take part in these exercises by learning, playing, and listening to music. It’s all about INVOLVEMENT and faith in the lasting value of classical music as an important tradition worth perpetuating. May we each do all we can to support this worthwhile and enriching art.