Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lather, rinse, repeat

Oh, no! They are at it again!

Every now and then we report on this Web log about the ideas people are floating to make classical music appealing to the young who would rather go and listen to, I don't know, U2. Or 50 Cent. Whoever.

What do people listen to these days? I don't even know. When I was a kid I was not allowed to listen to pop music and by the time I grew up it was too late, I didn't want to.

That is my nerdy background! That is how I got the way I am.

The new idea being floated is from Greg Sandow, who writes for the Wall Street Journal. I admire Sandow's writing and I pay him the ultimate compliment of following him on Twitter. Sandow was apparently asking his students at Eastman for ideas they had to make classical music appealing to the younger crowd.

One kid in his class comes up with this idea that we can have a Democratic Composition, where all kinds of people contribute bits and pieces to some 15-minute piece and then we all go and sit through it, I mean listen to it.

You can read Sandow's blog post here.

Now, as I said, I admire Sandow. He seems to have his eyes and ears everywhere. And some of the things he likes, I agree. I already said I did not mind the idea of Prokofiev's grandson being a deejay and spinning all kinds of records side by side.

But this Democratic Composition idea.

Can we just not do this?

If anyone does this where I am I will pan it, I will say that right now.

These gimmicky desperate ideas people are coming up with are getting on my nerves. They are indicative of a kind of impatience in our society. We want to lure people into the concert hall. That is a nefarious word I love, "lure." But we are looking for a silver bullet that does not exist.

There is a secret to how people can start to get their minds around classical music, and I am going to reveal it now. It comes from my husband, Howard. Howard used to be more of a rock guy but since meeting me he has been dragged more into the concert hall and now he is a classical music guy, were we to use those terms.

How did he do it? He told me last night.

"You have to listen to the piece 10 times, and then you start to like it."

Why don't we try that? Instead of listening to pieces generated by chance, computer or chimp?

Why don't we have people listen to this?

This video is not much to look at, I have to say that. A couple of guys who look like old furniture. Not only that, but they look half asleep! I am just warning you.

But the music will get you. Here is what you do. Listen to it once. Listen to it again. Listen to it 10 times, as Howard says. Put the music on your i-Pod. Take it walking in the park. Play it for your friends. Play it again for your friends. Talk about it. Listen to it with your coffee in the morning. Have it with a glass of wine at night. When you go to bed you can even put the earbuds into your ears and enjoy that music one more time. Howard sometimes does that.

Lather, rinse, repeat!

That is what will bring people into the concert hall.


  1. Maybe they can lure people with the "Fast and Cheap" concert, instead...

  2. Please, Mary, reassure me, this DC is a late april fool?

  3. Or--we might ask the advice of youngsters such as the ones who are heard on this week's broadcast of "From the Top" on NPR, which was recorded in Kleinhans Music Hall a few weeks ago.

    Given that they represent the future of classical music in America, things don't seem too bleak.