“You’re going to major in music?” Upon my high school graduation, my extended family (great aunts and second cousins alike) all seemed to have been crouching in anticipation, ready to pounce me with the question. “Why? We thought you were smarter than that.” Why, indeed.
I had a roommate who was applying to schools for a graduate degree in chemistry at the same time I was applying for a MM. The schools not only offered to pay all her tuition and give her a generous stipend. They paid for her to visit the schools: hotel, food, airfare. She raised her eyebrows, genuinely wondering: “Why go to grad school–for music?” Why, indeed.
Why have I chosen something as difficult and relatively unrewarding as classical music as my vocation? Why didn’t I choose microbiology, English, or ophthalmology? I would have been capable of any of those things.
Some of the reasoning behind my pursuit of music as a career comes, of course, from my love for the art. It would be madness to pursue music as a career if there was no pleasure to be had in it. However, much of it has had to do with opportunity. I have a family background of individuals who pursued music seriously as amateurs. My parents listened to little other than classical music. It was natural–and expected–that I should study music. Then, when I decided I would try competing and auditioning, the doors to a career in music welcomed me, and so have, since. I take my life a step at a time, growing deeper in my love for an art form that is so abstractly beautiful, knowing that, whatever it is I do to earn my living, music will always be an integral part of me.
Zoltán Kodály seemed to believe that music was innate to peoples of all the world, seeking to train the ears of the masses to enjoy classical music by implementing his Kodály method, which brings the listener to an understanding of music, beginning with the music which results from his native language–folk music. Do people want to understand classical music, however?
The masses say: Classical music is not culturally relevant. If people mean it’s not new enough for them, what about all of the composers hailed as “too intellectual” in the last fifty to sixty years? What I believe most individuals mean by this is “abstract music is boring.”
My response: Yes, and that’s because, in this materialistic, fast-paced, over-stimulated, entertainment-demanding culture, it takes too much thought and time to comprehend, to learn to enjoy.
Reading that statement again, I realize it sounds woefully arrogant. I do believe that all musics are valid forms of expression. I simply think that some express themselves in a more sophisticated manner than others, and that, were more people to take the time to understand classical music, it would achieve greater success.
That being said, does success in the world give something its value? I should hope not! If it were, many beautiful and useful things would be worthless. Classical music, I believe, is an expression of the pursuit of the infinitely beautiful–something the soul innately longs for. Giving individuals a taste of the beautiful, encouraging them to wonder and enter the realm of the metaphysical–this is what makes music valuable. This is why I am a musician.