Sep 23, 2014

Get a Job!

One of my favorite songs, growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s, was Get A Job by The Silhouettes. I’m proud of the fact that The Silhouettes were from Philadelphia, my hometown, and that the song made it to number one on the R&B and pop music charts. Feel free to enjoy it here!

It seemed an appropriate lead into today’s blog. Mark Kanny, writing for the Pittsburgh Tribune on their TribLIVE web edition, writes about the difficulties of finding work as a musician, especially as a classically trained musician.

He quotes a number of sources including Robert Freeman, formerly director of the Eastman School of Music, who now teaches at the University of Texas in Austin and has just published a new book entitled: The Crisis of Classical Music in America, Lessons From a Life in the Education of Musicians. (Rowman and Littlefield)

Freeman: “The message of my book is that the crisis in classical music comes in important measure from the obsessively narrow way we have trained musicians for more than two centuries. Adding to the problem is our continuing production of increasing numbers of music degrees, now more than 21,000 American collegiate degrees a year, in a field where there have never been many jobs, but where there are now fewer each year.” This should come as no big surprise. Kanny notes: “Freeman says schools are giving intense instruction to classical music students but are not building an audience for the music.” Duh!

I’m not certain whether Freeman and Kanny are referring to music schools, universities, colleges, high schools, middle schools or elementary schools. But my response would be “Yes, indeed!” to all the above. But this is nothing new. For decades we have neglected training of the entire student bodies of our schools to develop aesthetic responses to classical music through the teaching of active listening skills. Why is this not done? Obviously it does not seem important to do this. . .at least in the minds of some individuals. This is where The Discovery Orchestra and such individuals part company. We believe it’s not only important but eminently possible and desirable to teach people how to listen to classical music – for the life changing effect it will have for each of them personally. And it’s never too late!

A person who took our Fall in Love with Music course wrote: “At age 57, just four years ago, I had an awakening to the arts. I realized that something had been missing in my life. Your statements: ‘Music is one of the greatest sources of pleasure in my life,’ and ‘Musical pleasure is heightened by the amount of detail we perceive,’ made a major impression on me.” At The Discovery Orchestra we are thrilled to be recording our Fall in Love with Music course for American Public Television in 2015. . .stay tuned!