In a recent piece by Bill Zuckerman, which is ostensibly a defense of the state of Classical Music not being so dire as some Crisis folks are saying, we get the explanation that many of the types of values taught are the focus of music school instruction. While I don’t necessarily disagree with that, I do take some issue with Zuckerman’s examples of “new values” used by younger and newer musicians.
Zuckerman opens up the section explaining the change and takes as his reference point Jim Faber’s Daily News piece, Classical music explodes, both in sales and in expanding boundaries, from February of 2014. It ends up reading like the classic dichotomy of Pop Music Culture vs. Classical Music Culture in that the focus seems to be on the hip and younger generation of musicians who have made some success doing crossover work. Not that there’s anything wrong with the musicians doing that–and that they have gotten some attention and some financial success doing so only shows us that there’s not so neat a boundary between the two music cultures.
However, part of the dichotomy is so dependent on understanding Classical Music as this big hegemonous behemoth which hasn’t evolved since, well, the 1950s of so–and Zuckerman’s piece helps maintain that view of Classical Music continuing to be something old and “out of touch” with current culture even if he’s just referring to the education of musicians.
Let’s set aside what’s problematic with making this sharp distinction between old/out of touch/no relevant and new/in touch with culture/relevant and just look at some of things I’ve been tracking over the years at this blog. I posted a comment in Zuckerman’s piece which sums it up well enough and quote it below for ease reference.