Thursday, April 02, 2009

Children and classical music

Tom Service writes in the Guardian today:
I am a 33-year-old classical music critic. In my 25 years of going to concerts (and since my 20s, writing about them), I am almost always the youngest person in the audience. Everywhere I go, from Bournemouth to Inverness, concert halls and opera houses resemble conventions for the blue-rinse brigade.
Another thing: I've noticed that bus and train stations now pipe canned classical music, day-in, day-out, through their speakers as a way of stopping young people hanging around. So toxic have the associations become, that this experiment actually works
It is easy to overdo the emphasis on youth. Why shouldn't there be some pleasures - malt whisky, county cricket, Midsomer Murders - that you come to appreciate later in life?

But, when you consider the matter, it is shocking that classical music can be used to drive young people away.

How did things come to this pass?

Service goes on to write about the decline of classical music in schools, which must have played a part. If you asked the young people themselves, I imagine you would frequently be told that the music was boring, posh and not for them.

Somewhere, radical politics has taken a wrong turning. It used to argue that the best things in life should be available to everyone, regardless of their birth. Now radicalism often consists in a sullen ghost of class consciousness that believes these good things are "not for the likes of us", like some cap-wringing caricature from the 1930s.

There is a better way. On an Overgrown Path wrote last month:
Genius is another word that has been devalued by the music press. But Benjamin Britten was a genius in the true meaning of the word. There is not one artistic compromise in Noye's Fludde, not one superfluous note, and not one cliché. Yet it can be performed by a cast of untrained youngsters and produce more tears than any Mahler symphony at the Barbican.
As I drove home last night I marvelled at just how many youngsters and adults had been touched by classical music through this Norfolk school's production.


Joe Otten said...

Reminds me of this by AC Grayling.

Yao Wang said...

Thank you for the post. After reading this, I feel that classical music education should be set as one of the important education at schools. The first reason is that if more and more young people start to know classical music, our group of classical musicians will become stronger, and there must be some chances to have more high level musicians in the future to help us to establish a better classical music education program at school, and those new trained high level musicians also will effectively help the classical music to move to a new level. The second reason is that if more and more young people get to know classical music, the value of the music can be sensible. It is same as example that if everybody thinks gold is not valuable metal, of course the gold will lose its importance to us. In order to reach this goal, government’s support is very important, because it means that whether classical music education can be supported by strong finical foundation, or not. If not, It is easy to imagine that many classical musicians, teachers and those whose work are related to classical music will lose their job, and classical music will be gradually sink into the underground of the our society.

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