I’ve been reading Reginald Nettel’s “The Orchestra in England: A Social History” (Yay, Half Price Books!) as some of my latest posts have been focusing on how the orchestra has changed and evolved throughout history. For many of us in the field, Orchestras (and to a lesser extent, Operas and Ballets) are symbolic of (and for some, these organizations are synonymous with) the Classical Music World. Orchestras (and Operas and Ballets), however, are a small fraction of the presenting organizations in existence and much like Pop Superstars, they get far more attention in the media and in conversations about the field as a whole.
As most of you know, I’ve not been blogging nearly as much as in the past–I go through periods like this. This doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing/thinking/analyzing things. I was just looking at all the recent drafts I’ve been working on and decided rather than trying to finish one I’ll just post some of the things I’ve been exploring in these posts–kind of a “cliffs notes” version of my blogging thought process. Some of this is inspired from some recent discussions I’ve been having on Facebook or other social media (where it seems like I’m having much more active interactions about these subjects), the rest is just I’d like to get some of these ideas out there even if they’re not complete thoughts yet.
One of the local research projects I’ve been working on is charting the evolution of Classical Music in Kentuckiana (i.e. the Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN MSA). Being one of the MSA’s which lies over two states, this makes some of the data gathering a little trickier, but lately I’ve decided to focus very specifically on New Albany, Indiana which is where I currently live and where I spent most of my school years before going to music school.
After the recent passing of Rubin Sher and Don McMahel, two giants of music education in this area, I decided it might be time to really get my hands dirty with data in honor of them and all the other music teachers still with us that I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with since I’ve moved back.
One of the running themes here at my blog is how we talk about Classical Music and how that inflects what we know about the field as a whole. This goes back to what’s known as a prototype theory of language first articulated by Psychologiest, Eleanor Rosch, back in 1973 as a way to understand how we formulate categories. Each individual will have their own prototypical understanding of, say, Classical Music and that will influence how the whole field is understood and how it can be manipulated as a mental category. This in turn influences what we can see as the range of possibilities for actual members of the categories in the real world.
So, why aren’t you in a band anyway? One of the things I think all Classical Music students (especially performers) should be required to do is play in a band. No, this doesn’t mean they should take up a guitar, bass, drums, or sing. What this does mean is that it should become an integral part of the performing experience–even if for just a semester. Learning the ropes on how to put together a set, getting booked, and dealing with a non concert hall type of venue would do more for teaching kids about the business of music than a class would, I’d think. Along the way, students would also be able to dispel a lot of myths about the Pop Music scene that we romanticize as a result of media representation or unrealistic portrayals of the industry through engagement with big name Pop Superstars.