Survivorship Bias: Why classical musicians might not want to think like rock bands

This is going to be the first in a series of posts exploring narrow ideas of “Success” in discussions from some Classical Music Crisis folks.

Survivorship bias also flash-freezes your brain into a state of ignorance from which you believe success is more common than it truly is and therefore you leap to the conclusion that it also must be easier to obtain. You develop a completely inaccurate assessment of reality thanks to a prejudice that grants the tiny number of survivors the privilege of representing the much larger group to which they originally belonged.

Continue reading “Survivorship Bias: Why classical musicians might not want to think like rock bands”

Musicians with or without Day Jobs

In today’s edition of You’ve Cott Mail, there’s a piece which focuses on artists and their day jobs. The piece discusses the recent Arts Data Profile #3 by the NEA which surveyed 60,000 households to extrapolate an estimate of full time and part-time artists in the US as it relates to a studies about what constitutes being an artist.  This was something I explored in my post about Andrew Watts Slate.com piece and my follow up to that regarding part-time musicians being the historical norm.

Continue reading “Musicians with or without Day Jobs”

Musical Literacy versus Musical Fluency

A couple years ago while reading Dick Weissman’s book, Making a Living in Your Local Music Market, I blogged about the section in the book about Musical Literacy. As Weissman related some remarks by Bruce Ronkin:

He defines it as an awareness and understanding of all musical styles, instead of concentrating on technical aspects of music.  I think this is a very useful concept, because it places emphasis on the student and teacher being open to many musical styles.  The truth is that most of us are fixated on specific musical styles and techniques, and many of us don’t listen to a variety of musical styles.

Continue reading “Musical Literacy versus Musical Fluency”

The Locust and the Wookiee Cellist Phenotypes

The grasshopper (left) and the locust (right) are simply two different expressions of the same genome
The grasshopper (left) and the locust (right) are simply two different expressions of the same genome

An intriguing piece David Dobbs at Aeon Magazine is basically a rallying call to put to rest the supremacy of genes as the primary or sole driver of evolution. Dobbs begins the piece by describing a talk he attended at a neuroscience convention by Steve Rogers (no, not Steve “Captain America” Rogers) of Cambridge University which basically demonstrates that locusts and grasshoppers are not only closely related, they are really just different the same species which are simply the result of different gene expressions of the same genetic material.

Continue reading “The Locust and the Wookiee Cellist Phenotypes”

Part-Time Musicians are the Historical Norm

In my previous post I questioned just what we mean by being a “full-time musician” and now turn to what seems to be the historical norm–being a part-time musician.

In John H. Mueller’s “The American Symphony Orchestra: A Social History of Musical Taste” we get some idea of what  “full-time” employment meant for most musicians in the period before we had full time orchestras in the 50s and 60s.  Many Orchestral musicians weren’t performing much outside of Orchestras:

Continue reading “Part-Time Musicians are the Historical Norm”