University


In one of my university classes, we have been given an assignment to create a webpage – specifically a blog. Now, musicians, often, aren’t very technologically capable, so a blog seems like the best choice for them (yet, for some of them, it’s even a step to far). But of course with this, comes the obligatory speech about “Web 2.0” – the so-called internet phenomenon that is putting placing content onto the internet into ordinary peoples hands.

Just recently, I’ve noticed two blogs that, while not mentioning it specifically, seem to imply that we need to redevelop Classical Music into a style that puts it into ordinary peoples hands.

Alex Ross points us to an Interview with Seattle Symphony lead cellist, Joshua Roman, who says:

“I would love to see the classical-music industry crumble, just absolutely fall to bits. Because I think then we’d have to start over. We’d have to say, well, what is it? What is classical music? Is it this concert hall, is it these tuxedos? No, it’s this music. And then we could start over from the beginning, build it up, find people who like the music. Like rock and roll started, like the punk movement started.”

A few days prior, Greg Sandow posted two articles – Good things — the Pittsburgh Symphony and Clarification which focus on initiatives being run by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra that focus on bridging the gap and reaching out to the people that aren’t already in the hall.

So, is this the start of a revolution? A change to Classical Music 2.0? I think so, and the parallels with Web 2.0 are similar.

At first, the Internet was used for sharing knowledge between Universities and the Military. It was designed for those that understood what was in there. As the Internet became available for people in their own homes, pages started being designed that were of interest to them. It still required a knowledge of the system to create a page, but the infomation was there. Now with Web 2.0, anyone can publish their thoughts to the web through blogging, plus infomation is more readily available, and is often linked to throughout the “blogosphere”.

Classical Music is similar. At first, it was intended for academics – only those who could understand it listened to it. Eventually it started breaching out, and some people who didn’t have any knowledge of Classical Music started listening to it, and enjoying it. They would get some knowledge, and enjoy the concerts, and through devices such as program notes, were able to understand more about the music.

With Classical Music 2.0, the boundary must be breached between the knowledge and the everyday people. A conscious effort must be made to not only reach out to these people, but to embrace them within our community.

Interaction is most likely one of the key elements of Classical Music 2.0. I know from personal experience that as I have gotten more involved in Classical Music, and I have met the musicians that play in my local symphony orchestra, I enjoy the concerts more, because I can recognise the players and say “Oh yea, I learnt from that guy” or “I had an orchestral tutorial with him” or “I played some chamber music with her” or even just “I had a drink with that girl after one of my concerts”. The personal connection is such an important tool, and it brings people back, because they want to see how you’re doing.

One of my lecturers, Michael Goldschlager, talks of this as part of his experience as part of the Macquarie Trio – one of the most successful chamber groups in Australia until their break-up just recently. He says they formed a personal relationship with their audience, often consulting them about decisions such as venues, meeting them after the concert, and welcoming a relaxed atmosphere. He puts this forward as part of their success over the 15 years that they were together.

Interactivity definatly seems to be the key to reinvigorating Classical Music. Not just getting the musicians to interact with the audience to keep the people that come, but also administration interacting with their audiences and potential audiences to provide programming choices that attract new people. What’s the point in making all these changes to how the musicians behave if you don’t provide that programming that will attract new audience members.

Well, I had my first lesson with my new teacher a couple of days ago. I would’ve posted sooner, but I’ve been rather busy. Here’s what she’s got me starting out on:
Rode 2
Summer by Vivaldi
Brahms’ Scherzo from the F.A.E Sonata
Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1
Choice of either Beethoven Sonata No. 1 or 5 (haven’t decided yet, though I’m leaning towards 5)
She’s also put me onto some Sevcik, and is changing my bow hand and my thumb position.

First lesson was really great – we ended up going for an hour and a half. Excellent 🙂 I’m really looking forward to seeing how I progress this year, I feel that she’s going to be able to push me along a fair way.

I’ve got the first rehearsal for the Uni Orchestra tonight. Program is Beethoven 5, Milhaud Percussion Concerto and Rodrigo Guitar Concerto. Should be good. Anyway, must get off to uni and get some practice underway.

No, I haven’t just smacked that annoying fly that keeps buzzing around me, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and I’m supposed to hand in a one page dot point summary of mine by Monday. It’s part of a “Communications” module – which is supposed to be basically teaching us skills for when we head out into the world. However, so far, I haven’t been very good at doing this SWOT.

As is often the case, it’s very easy to pick out the weaknesses and threats, but much harder to pick out Strengths. Thankfully, I’ve always been pretty good at picking an opportunity.

I think my biggest Weakness at the moment is not knowing where I want to go. Sure, I would love to be able to get into an orchestra, but I realise that that may not be possible right out of uni… in fact, more likely than not, it won’t be. So I need to find a way to make some money, and still be involved in music, but that might not necessarily be performing.

In fact, I know it won’t be. I’ve discovered that my strengths are much better suited towards something other than performance. Something more like Concert Promotion or Artist Management. I am very good at thinking up what I want to achieve, and then working out what I need to do to get there. I know that I’m charming, very good at networking, have a fairly logical mind and I’m technologically savvy (in fact, my website is being hosted on my home computer). I think these strengths would suit me well towards being a concert promoter and artist management.

So I’m going to head down this path. I’m going to complete my Bachelor of Music, because wanting to focus on Classical music artists and concerts, having a knowledge of Classical Music will allow me to work for them better. I’ll know the sorts of things they’ll want, and what it takes for a performance to go smoothly, as opposed to a contemporary music performance.

One of the best things of being a Concert Promoter, is that I can bring over the artists that I want to hear, and get to work with them, and hear them for free! Awesome!