It’s Not the Music, It’s the Context

There’s an interesting conversation going on at Greg Sandow’s blog, on whether or not music education leads to later involvement with classical music. It seems self-evident to those of us who are educators that it does, but Greg remains skeptical:

There are studies that show that the best predictor of classical music attendance — of anything ever measured — is playing classical music on some instrument.

But I think that’s not quite the same thing as saying that there’s a causal effect — that if people only would study classical performance, on whatever level, then later they’ll go to concerts.

I commented that I know many classical musicians who don’t attend many classical concerts, and music students who actively dislike them. Later in the dialogue, a college music student, Eric Lin, describes his discomfort hearing a brilliantly-played Emerson Quartet concert at Carnegie Hall.

We found ourselves surrounded by an audience whose average age is anywhere from 40 to 50 years older than my friend or myself. I’m not in anyway being age discriminatory, but the discomfort was real. I love the late quartets and I was certainly excited to here Rihm’s ‘contemporary’ quartet, yet when the old lady next to me started dozing off, I found myself getting sleepy too. I never would’ve imagined that I would start falling asleep during a Beethoven quartet.

The entire thread is well worth reading.


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