Over the years I’ve heard quite a few erroneous things about Classical music. Some are funny, some are downright insulting. Here are some of the highlights (remember, these are things I’ve actually heard people say).
1. Classical music is old-fashioned and has no relevance for today.
This is probably the most common thing I hear. It is eerily akin to pouty kids who say that learning algebra or creative writing has no point to it. And if you are one of those people right now, I doubt the rest of this post will make sense to you.
2. There is no point in playing the music of dead guys.
If this were true, there would no value in studying anything by anyone not alive.
3. Its good to start off studying Classical music. That way you can learn the GOOD music some day.
I hear this a lot from pop / jazz / rock musicians. They see only the value in the finger dexterity, technical control, and note-reading that comes from learning Classical music. But they see no value in the actual music itself.
4. Classical music is for smart people.
This represents our societal image of nerdy, socially-challenged people loving classical music while the rest of the world enjoys normal music. I will at least partially concede this point. A study with a sample of 1,000 kids under 5th grade who had two or more years of private music lessons found that their test scores in all areas were higher than those of their peers.
5. Kids who play Classical music only do it because their parents or culture pressures them.
I hear this a lot too. It insinuates that kids are practically abused, forced against their will to play boring, tedious Classical music. But often, parents and/or cultures that “require” kids to play classical music have introduced it long before private music lessons ever began--usually in the vehicles of recreational listening, religious services, and ethnic celebrations. Is it really such a stretch for kids to want to further explore something to which they’ve been exposed for all their lives?
6. Classical music has no audience anymore.
Perhaps, at least in the traditional sense. But the fact that collegiate music departments are slammed with high-level Classical auditions every year (both performance and composition), and that social media is bursting with Classical recordings, blogs, pages, etc., challenges this. Add to that the numerous sproutings of small, indie Classical recording labels and the development of niche businesses in the Classical market and you have a case for a shifting audience.
7. People who become musicians only do it because they aren’t good enough to do anything else.
Do you hear some things about Classical music that don’t sound quite right? Maybe you even take issue with Classical music (dissenting views are always welcome). Please feel free to write in and share.
Adam & Anna Bendorf are private piano teachers in Santa Clarita, CA. They are socially well-adjusted, especially considering that they have listened to thousands of hours of Classical music over the course of their entire lives.