We Need Music Education For Adults , Too
New York Times chief music critic Anthony Tommasini has an interesting article in this past Sunday's Arts and Lesure section on new developments in the classical music world in terms of audience outreach , a vital thing to ensure that classical music survives .
He discusses how some of America's major classical music organizations have been striving to reach out to young people and involve them in some way with classical music and to try to make them aware that there is more to music than Rock , Hip Hop . Britney Spears and Michael Jackson .
Among the things he cites are the 2007 visit of the great berlin Philharmonic under its music director Sir Simon Rattle to New York . The orchestra played not only its usual concerts in Carnegie Hall , but presented a performance of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring with youngsters from various New York public schools dancing at a theater in Washington Heights , and a more recent performance of Leonard Bernstein's "Mass" with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony at the same venue in which part of the large choral forces for this work were also youngsters from New York schools , and a recent performance of the "Ode To Joy " from Beethoven's 9th symphony with Gustavo Dudamel at the Hollywood Bowl with massed youngsters from Los Angeles .
Tommasini also cites the enormous success of the Metropolitan Opera's HD broadcasts of some of its live performances in movies theaters across America . His optimism is justified . These are indeed encouraging developments .
But we need more than efforts to introduce young people in our public schools to classical music . Enough damage to this cause has already been done by the deplorable abandonment by so many public schools around the country of music programs . There are still millions of adults who know little or nothing about classical music , and it's not their fault .
How can we reach more and more adults and make them aware of what a wonderful thing classical music is , and get more of them to attend orchestra concerts , the opera, and other ensembles on a regular basis ? Or to purchase and listen to classical CDs, DVDs , watch PBS classical broadcasts , download classical music on their computers etc ?
One thing that needs to be done is to debunk myths about classical music , such as the ridiculous notion that it's only for wealthy snobs who go to the symphony and opera for social reasons , and that it's "stuffy", "boring" and "elitist ". And TV commercials which sterotype opera by portraying it as a joke with fat people in ridiculous Viking costumes don't help , such as the one I discussed last week .
There are adult education courses at various colleges ,universities and public libraries around the country where people can learn about classical music , but I think we need more of them , and perhaps some kind of organization which through publicity would invite more of the public to learn about classical music . For public schools , we need some one who would be the equivalent of Bill Nye, the science guy , explaining classical music to kids the way Mr. Nye explains science to them .
There's a lot to be done. But it's worth it .