Just a few weeks ago, there was an article on Slate that created quite a stir in the classical music community. It was about the death of classical music. Instead of providing my commentary on it, I wanted to share my ideas on how we can secure the future of classical music in a live concert setting.


 

Education

As an educator, I’ll always be an advocate for the arts in education. However, as a classical music lover, I define myself not only as an advocate, but as an activist as well. The future will be left in the hands of generations after us, so if we want to influence them with our passion for classical music then we must teach them how to first appreciate it. Once they develop the appreciation, then they can now understand the importance of it. Generally, most of a child’s first formal musical background is provided by the school system, but how much classical music do they learn in a general music classroom? Perhaps the reason a majority of people dislikes classical music is because they were never exposed to it at a young age. Children who choose an instrument are more inclined to learn about the history and understand the different styles or genres that are associated with the instrument. It’s our job as educators to take advantage of that curiosity and enhance their knowledge of what “classical” music truly is. Many orchestras have educational outreach programs that provide students the opportunity to attend workshops, open rehearsals, and tours but we need to expand it even more to keep them interested in the live performance of the arts. When I searched online for these events, I found that they normally only occur once every couple of months. Yet, the goal should be to always keep the young impressionable minds engaged whenever possible. Instrument petting zoos before a concert once a week is easy to do and will definitely get the youngsters engrossed in the idea of playing an instrument. Everyone should witness the look on a three-year-old’s face as they see a tuba or double bass for the first time.

Higher Education

Most of the classical musicians end up going to college to major in either music education or performance. But how many of them have a strong background in the business aspect part of the music industry? There’s so much more than the musicians and conductor to make an orchestra successful. Sometimes the audience forgets that there is a whole administrative team that works very hard to make what you see on stage possible. Educational outreach programs, grant writing, artistic planning, marketing and development, etc. are among the many areas in which a music entrepreneur can look into. Why not have more colleges that offer musicians and music lovers alike to learn how to be entrepreneurial in the music business? This could potentially ensue in a greater profit with workers who are enthused and passionate about the field.

Student Rush

One of the ways to get young audiences to become members is through the power of student rush tickets. The best thing about student rush is the price. The worst thing is having to wait until the week or day of the performance which usually means unwanted seats (even though seats are not guaranteed). But why must someone wait until the week or day of a performance to purchase a ticket when the reason of the purchase is to be inspired by the live music? Why are they limiting that access to who our target audience should be? Conceivably, it would make more sense to make student rush tickets available two weeks prior to the concert. I understand trying to secure the full price ticket purchase, but a majority of the income originates from donations. That’s the beauty of classical music; it’s the people’s donations that make these grand concerts available to everyone. Creating dedicated followers means a greater potential of creating dedicated sustaining donors in the future. We need to start focusing on who will be giving those $10,000 donations in 10 years and how we can secure those donors at a young age.

Social Media

Giving younger audience members the ability to connect with an artist or ensemble will feel as if they have a personal relationship with them. My friend Jaclyn Antonacci just started her own blog and wrote an interesting article titled “Generation Why.” Antonacci explains that we are a generation inclined to invest in the ideas behind the product. As my fellow recent college graduates and I are part of Generation Y, we understand the importance of social media and the influence it has on how we perceive what we want and why we want it. If Alan Gilbert, conductor of the New York Philharmonic, retweeted something from me, I’d probably jump with joy and squeal from happiness. This is the connection classical music companies and organizations alike should be striving for. We want to believe in the idea behind what the company stands for. We want to know how they think and see how they interact with their audience. We want to see the different personalities behind each musician the same way we hear the different personalities they can create on their instrument.

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