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Robert Berger

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Myths about classical music . Misconceptions about classical music are common in society .

Misconceptions about classical music are common in society , and they have misled many people into thinking that they should not listen to it or attend concerts and opera .
Among these canards are the notion that classical music is "stuffy, boring and elitist ". But if this kind of music is "boring", why do audiences cheer and yell "bravo" so often , anb why is there a passionately enthusiastic audience for it all over the world ?
And the temr "elitist" implies that orchestras and opera companies are trying to exclude anyone who is not white and rich . In reality , they very much want to reach out to people of all ages and ethnicities and to welcome them with open arms .
In opera , many people who know little or nothing about this magnificent centuries old art form have a stereotypical image in their heads of fat singers in ridiculous pseudo Viking costrumes shouting to each other while rich, bored people who are there on;ly fo rsocial reasons and to show off their finery sit bored ot tears in their boxes .
In reality , opera lovers are as passionately devoted to opera as sports fans are to sports .
Another misconception is that classical music cannot be "relevant" because it consists entirely of musty old music from long ago. In fact, it is a continuum of music going back centuries to the present day . How can we debunk myths aout classical music and increase the audience for it in America ?

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    Oct 10 2012: I think two related issues tend to steer people clear of opera and classical music. Many music lovers strongly favor music with lyrics (rather than instrumental) and of those, many prefer lyrics they can understand (rather than lyrics in Italian or German or another language they do not speak).

    It isn't that the music is from long ago, I think, or that old people like it. Most old people don't go to operas either.

    When I was young (a long time ago), my elderly neighbors took Opera News. I think there was an opera on the radio every weekend and in advance these neighbors told us all the stories. I used to know all the stories, which had the appeal of myths.

    If a person does not know the story or the language, it can be difficult.
    • Oct 10 2012: I would like to add one more issue: musical education.

      Classical and jazz might require a basic understanding of music when it comes to theory and technical prowess. Possession of such elemental knowledge allows people to understand, enjoy and awe the genius of the composer, as well as the musicians performing the piece.


      Classical music requires involvement of its audience and this is something that requires time. Sadly, time is a luxurious commodity in the modern age.

      My fear is that, as a result, classical music and jazz will die off slowly for "being unfitting" in our times.
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        Oct 10 2012: Jazz is pretty big among young people in some locations. See this link for an example of what some local jazz enthusiasts are doing to expand access: http://seattlejazzed.org/
        • Oct 10 2012: I am happy to see that there are large scale jazz projects for youngsters, that will certainly help introduce fresh talent into the genre.
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        Oct 10 2012: I would actually mention one more shortcoming of both opera, and classical music that jazz lacks... and, in my humble opinion, why jazz will survive... The drums. Classical drumbeats, have nothing on modern music, and jazz has some of the most creative drummers in history.
        • Oct 10 2012: I must say I disagree.

          Percussion is simply used in a different way in classical music. I am certain that some classical musicians disapprove of the metronomical nature of modern drumming.

          In addition, drumming is practically non-existant in some types of jazz (for example jazz manouche), without an effect on popularity.

          I agree, though, that percussion has reached its pinnacle in jazz.

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