I've been thinking a lot lately about the image of the classical music genre... It's absolutely getting a bad rep, but who's to blame? Is it the mass media for promoting other styles to idol status? Is it the mainstream population for not giving classical a fair chance? ... or is it classical musicians musicians!? No never we're the messengers of the gods bringing music to people of the earth... yeah... hmmm... maybe that's the problem. People don't relate to classical music because it's kept separate from them. It's elevated to this status that is above human. It's intimidating, but classical music isn't above the human experience. The human experience is what it's all about!
Well, I think it needs a marketing makeover. When a business isn't working there's a reason. Either your product isn't good (and we KNOW that's not the issue) or your just not marketing in the right way. In my opinion the entire way it's presented could change. On these lines I have a confession to make. I like playing classical music way more than I like listening to it, but I have a feeling I'm not the only one. I'm probably breaking some cardinal rule by saying this, like a magician revealing his tricks.
The reason is pretty simple though, when I play I'm doing something. I don't have to sit still, and keep quiet. That's what we expect of our audience, like their little children or something and not our peers. I'm not saying people should be starting a mosh pit or anything, just that maybe it's not such a huge crime to clap between movements or whistle during an ovation.
My favorite place to listen to live instrumental music is a coffee shop. It's relaxed, I've got something to do (drink coffee), it's still beautiful music, and sometimes the musicians will even talk to us! The audience is still respectful, and keeps the talking low volume. Those who are listening, get to experience the music up closer than they ever would in the front row of a concert hall. They can even tell the musicians in person what they thought. Which is good for the musician too. It's amazing how far a little nudge of confidence will go mid-performance. It's fun, we're all a bunch of humans hanging out being human.
The good news is, it seems that things are slowly changing. Classical mmusicians are aware that our audiences aren't growing and we're starting to see why. We have to reach out and pull them in. This stuff ain't gonna sell itself, though we like to think it would.
I guess my rant should end, I could get carried away with this topic. Let me end with this... Thousands of years ago, when humanity began singing around the campfire do you think the listeners were sitting quietly with their hands folded? Why can't we play for our audience instead of at them?