Imagine. It’s the evening. Tonight you’re going to a piano recital. You sit down on your allocated seat. The pianist comes on wearing a ridiculous outfit (white tie and tails obviously), as he approaches the piano he glances at the audience as if to ask: ‘why are you lot here?’. The pianist will play the first movement of a Beethoven sonata perhaps. Then you clap… Now the entire sold out audience stares at you as if you had just killed someone. After the concert, you mispronounce the name of a composer… Oh dear!
Firstly who on Earth made these stupid rules about the recital etiquette? Secondly, is there any wander why the classical music industry is one of the smallest? The first, in my opinion, a key factor as to how classical music can be rather off putting.
An excellent example of a somebody that throws away these outdated rules for the better is a guy called James Rhodes, an excellent pianist who also believes that the representation of classical music should be changed or updated to our modern more interactive world. When I think I am good enough to give solo concerts, I will definitely use Rhodes’ approach as it is up to date with our 21st Century society.
Another judgement which I certainly used to have, is the pretty grotty image that comes with classical music. Before I knew anything about music, the image that came to mind with ‘classical music’ was a portrait of Bach or Mozart. I don’t know about you, but that image can come across as quite ‘nerdy-ish’ and mildly snobbish. Which is another factor to why people, especially young people are drawn away from this art form.
Now this may seem odd, but my introduction to classical music was not through a classical artist, but through a contemporary classical composer ( Another ‘oh dear’ moment) called Ludovico Einaudi. Now you may indeed be thinking that isn’t classical music and that Einaudi’s work is simple technically and harmonically simple ( which is admittedly true, his hardest piece would probably be at about a grade 6 level – ABRSM) but it is this ‘dunking in to the shallow end’ that enabled me to become that Olympic swimmer (sort of thing). Even now, though I can play all of his pieces with my eyes shut, I still do, because it deserves my respect (and it is still an effective antidepressant, i.e. it always makes my day).
Classical music should not be thought of as a nerdy, snobbish genre, but a category of music just like any other. Don’t be afraid to jump out of the crowd, listen to what passes the ‘hairs on the back of the neck test’ and don’t care about others’ opinions because you only live once, make the most of it!