Monday, September 27, 2010

Killing...uhh, Saving Classical Music

This is a reply to a post titled Classical Music's Problem...  The author (who writes at a site ironically called KillingClassicalMusic) is actually an advocate for "rescuing the world's best music from a slow, certain death at the hands of tired traditions and oppressively ordinary thought." How could we not read on???  The general premise of the post is "how do we expect untrained audiences to relate to classical music?"

Here is our reply:

They say the definition of absurdity is repeating the same thing and expecting different results. There's simply no reason to put classical music on a pedestal in this day and age - if it dies, so be it (note to newspaper publishers). Times change - new things arise. Watching a symphony play 200 or 300 year old music (or even 50 year old music for that matter) is just not something the i-pad, i-phone or i-pod generation wants to do. So here is one group's solution:

1. Create a digital music learning environment. Make it a professionally designed curriculum that is not a shortcut but a solid user-friendly learning 'system'.

2. Make it personal, affordable, and so crystal clear that even school district music administrators and groups like MENC stand up and take notice.

3. Allow it to grow, change, adapt, and be flexible enough to be used by both teachers as a basic curriculum or students learning on their own.

4. Make it available for all instruments, including guitar, bass, electric guitar, piano, and keyboard (not just band and orchestral instruments).

5. Use many genres of music as playing and listening examples. We hear all sorts of music in our everyday lives, why continue to 'teach' musical concepts using outdated songs, examples, and exercises?

Basically, WE as educators (and the profession of music education) must adapt to create an environment where people of all ages interested in learning music can access it on their terms using modern practices and technology as a vehicle. Until we begin to reach current (and future) generations as they are accustomed, we will be mired in the state we are now, with dwindling in-school music programs (despite all the 'music makes you smarter studies) and poorly attended (classical) concert halls.

At we have created the Kore Series as a start toward this end. Our goal is to package, market,  and sell (gasp!) music education to everyone, which in turn might lead to selling more instruments, more CD's, more sheet music, and more tickets.  Win-Win.

Our philosophy is simple and hearkens to a quote by Chris Small, "Music is a VERB not a noun, it is something one does and it is valid at every level."  We try and live this each day on campus at DSM and online at MusickEd. Comments welcome!


Thomas J. West said...

There is definitely a place for classical music in the modern world. The benefits of participating in a traditional school performing ensemble are many. But, as you stated, most kids don't live there anymore. School performing ensembles continue to be "in-bred", servicing only the sons and daughters of parents who went through the programs themselves or who showed an aptitude for music performance early on.

We need a return to the creative hobbyist - one who writes and performs their own music. Music composition (and all artistic expression) has been democratized for the first time in human history by our technology - the opportunities to express through the arts have never been better.

Traditional performing ensembles will still have a place, but unless music students have a way of taking that experience with them into their adult life, programs will continue to suffer. said...

Yes indeed. We are counting on this and future generations of teachers to carry their connectivity into the workplace. My colleagues and I created to be an online extension of what we do here at The Dallas School of Music - a private, for-profit (gasp!) music school.

Technology allows us to reach the individual enthusiasts you speak of as well as large groups of students in schools who might benefit from a personal learning system (not only on band and orchestral instruments, but keyboard and guitar as well).

Because the Kore Series resides 'online', it gives us great flexibility to add, edit and grow and we can provide all kinds of support for the fraction of the cost of a stagnant method book.

You are indeed correct, performing ensembles have their place without a doubt. We hope to make individuals more music literate and drive musicians to play more, join more groups (both in and out of schools), buy more instruments, and generally consume more music related products in the future.

Have a super presentation in Miami!