I mean ‘scissors’ between music ‘makes and make-nots’ (like wealthy haves and have-nots). Because that’s what is happening and it doesn’t help almost anyone, except for the tiniest group of 0.01% on the top of the music industry.
Is this political? Sure it is! At least from this point of view. How many people fly private jets? And how many own mansions, sport franchises, private islands, banks, factories … Not too many, right?
Interestingly, in the music world people have this notion that it is more democratic … because, in fact, everyone can listen to music. But that means using (consuming) someone else’s product. Where music can be, and truly IS democratic, is in musicking or music making. Everyone can hum, whistle or sing a song, bang a rhythm on a barrel, strum a guitar, or play any other music instrument. Or can’t they?
Well, that is what majority of people believe at least (or are made to believe) about themselves.
(There is an exception here for oppressive regimes that prohibit music. Like Iran and Afghanistan in the past. For me such an idea is frightening and mind-boggling.)
Recently I was reading a discussion forum about online courses helping to ‘learn playing piano fast’. To my surprise, majority of participants pushed the idea, that it is not possible, or good, to learn playing fast. Why? Because one needs FIRST to learn music theory, read notes, … and some history is also helpful.
So this BS is not only spread by the music industry, music schools and teachers. Those, obviously, benefit from clients and customers paying for years for their services and products. If we trust that such an online discussion forum is genuine (maybe it isn’t?), than an ‘Average Joe’ believes and spreads this nonsense as well! Why? Because that is what most of us know and we are made to believe.
Let’s imaginge that your child wants to start riding a bicycle. Would you first bring home a pile of books and insist him or her to learn about physics of movement, construction of self propelled vehicles, physiology of the vestibular apparatus controlling our sense of balance? Why would you do that? Instead, you get them a proper sized bike, with training wheels, to get a feel of cycling – and to start doing it. Immediately!
And the fact is, that many poor kids don’t have even that luxury of a smaller bike with supporting wheels. Instead they learn how to ride an adult sized bike, whichever way they manage to do it. Because they want to and because they like it. Size doesn’t matter.
So why do we force our kids through tedious tasks of learning music theory and reading music before they know how to play their instrument? That is far from the feeling of the freedom, like when driving that bike alone for the first time.
The sad fact is, that too many people get lost throughout that journey as they lose interest and stop playing music. Similarly, too many never arrive to the destination where playing music equals freedom. As one of the participant in that discussion forum put it – after ten years of getting traditional piano classes, he was not able to play one popular tune and accompany himself when singing … he learned this some forty years later by taking a simple piano online course.
In my mind, this is an example of a terrible outcome of the classical, or traditional music education. Forty years lost! Although not completely, because learning music in the young age has indisputable benefits for the brain development, for learning how to listen, focus, practice…
Still, this is not the way how the music industry and the music education system should treat their customers. In their dealings they try to make the majority of the population dependent at least (and addicted at worst) to their offerings. ( Any potential similarity with the current North American medical or pharmaceutical industries is here purely coincidental…)
Wouldn’t be better for everyone, including the music establishment, to have the majority of the people as self-reliant partners? Instead of pushing them into a passive role of dependent consumers, aren’t those who actively make music more involved with everything music related? Wouldn’t people who have at least some understanding of music and music-making, be more into buing music instruments, concert tickets, music lessons, and recorded music?
Too many look at music as some godly miracle. But if you understand the process of making music. And if you allow yourself to try and to experience the enjoyment and the freedom that can come with it, then you are usually hooked for life. The ability to understand what is going on ‘under the hood’ usually sparks more interest.
There is one crucial thing to understand here. The interest, the understanding and the ability to make music don’t have to lead to a stardom and financial wealth. That is where the current music world is broken. Because if the only goal in making music is a financial gain, then the feeling of freedom is traded for the money. Social, mental and physical benefits of music-making are available to everyone. But these are often exchanged for stress, anxiety, endless working hours, crushed dreams of stardom, depression, addictions and unhappiness.
This is where those ‘scissors’ of the music world are opening more and more. Not everyone can become a celebrity and become rich. Even if some try very hard.
Music should be to play and not to pay!
Photo by Maaria Lohiya on Unsplash