'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Friday, October 17, 2008

'The Ageless Audience' and Classical Music

Robin is now in Istanbul and settling into the Queen Victoria, which will be home for the next week, and I'm waiting to hear which day will be concert day.

When he does perform his concert, the age of the audience is likely to be, but not exclusively, 40 +.
There are many reasons for this, and it is often an area debated in a very negative way.
So I was very pleased to read a recent report by Diane Haithman in the Los Angeles Times, 'The ageless audience.'

The report challenges the view that the audience for live performing arts is aging, and suggests that this is in fact nothing new.

It's so refreshing to read a more optimistic take on the whole area.
Rather than the doom and gloom of the decline in interest in classical music by the younger generation, it focuses on the more logical issues that prevent younger people attending concerts.
Finance plays a part along with having young children.
When in your 20's you may well choose to spend any available money in a different way, and by your 30's, are often caught up in life with small children.
By your 40's onwards, the situation starts to change, and coincidentally, that is when people tend to start attending classical concerts...

There's also the argument that listening to classical music requires a higher level of concentration, something that is achieved over time, and with more life experience.
It's all there in the report, and is well worth a read.

But we shouldn't sit back and assume that people will naturally move towards classical music as they get older.
They do need to have some early exposure to encourage the transition.
This is one of the reasons why I blog, Twitter and run a MySpace page.
MySpace in particular highlights the need to interact with the younger generation in a way that is familiar to them.
Many of our 'friends' on MySpace are young, electric guitar players, who can see and appreciate the skill required to be a classical player, even though they don't do it themselves.
I have even had messages from some saying they would go and see Robin perform live, as they hadn't before realised how exciting it can be.
All that achieved from just 5 tracks on a MySpace page.

It is also why I have often mentioned the need for more access to classical music on mainstream television.
Then there will be more opportunities for the younger generation to hear and see performances, even if by chance.
A good example of this was the recent 'Maestro' series on BBC 2, which I wrote about here.

A worrying development I recently heard about in the UK, although I've not confirmed this information, is that for GCSE Music you no longer need to be able to read music.
If this is the case then it is absurd, and maybe they should re title it GCSE Music appreciation.
How on earth can you be given a qualification suggesting a certain level of ability has been obtained, if you can't actually read a note of music?

As I mentioned the other day on Twitter, our youngest son, age 6, took his violin into school and played a few pieces.
One of his peers went home and told his mum that our son could read that funny language!
Even at the age of 5/6 children appreciate that 'notes' are indeed another form of communication.

Would you give someone GCSE French if they couldn't speak a word of it?
I hope not.
This is not completely off topic.
The point being that 'early exposure' is vital.
We need to reinforce the importance, and influence, that music can have on our lives at an early age, to give children the chance to discover it in more detail later on.

In the words of G.K.Chesterton:

"Education is simply the soul of society as it passes from one generation to another."

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