Thursday, September 26, 2013

Such is Jazz.....


Greetings! Since you are all just beginning your dialog about the future of music I won’t be the one to spoil it for you - This is a fantastic class! I wanted to share a little blurb about an experience I had the other day and hopefully give you some perspective on this whole situation of the Future of music.

About two weeks ago I briefly overheard a conversation between a student and an Administrator of Longy about learning music. The student was very worried about learning jazz and the administrator said seriously, “Don’t worry! It’s only for a semester. It’s not like you’ll make a career with jazz. Who’d every want to do something so horrible?” Besides being somewhat counter-intuitive to what they are asking you to do at Longy, this statement is precisely why the future of music is so bleak for so many around here. Today, doing one thing well is just not enough. A musician must be able to multi-task and be multi-talented. A Classical Conservatory can’t give you everything you need to make it as a musician in this day and age. Graduating with a Masters degree will not make a student a professional and today, more so than ever, it’s on the student to bridge the gap between the two. 

Such is jazz. Knowing jazz and studying jazz will not make one a jazz musician. There is a huge gap between what you learn about jazz and how you use it. The 21st-century shows that it’s no longer an art form; it’s a way of looking at things. The gap I just mentioned; that’s expression. Today’s culture is so reliant on expression and the popular music today reflects that, as simple as it may seem (man, what does that tell you?). The majority of music you hear at Longy was the “popular” brand in a time long passed and its performers the most famous musicians of that time. What is the most popular music, who are the most famous musicians today and why are they famous? It’s because they make their art relatable. 

Your job, as a musician in 2013, is to make your art speak and be relevant in todays popular culture. If someone in your audience is not understanding what you’re doing then it’s your fault, not theirs. As a veteran of the stage and the road I can promise you that it’s just not enough to “know”. You need to have skills in many areas/styles of music and be versatile enough to get the job done. Unfortunately, 99% of you will never be good enough to do it on your own the rest of your lives. The sooner you realize that, and start embracing other areas of music, the sooner you can get to work and not be a close-minded administrator. Just be a musician. Not a jazz musician and not a classical musician. Just a Musician.

1 comment:

Jordan Pearson said...

Thank you for taking the time to post here! Since I have little experience in actually getting paid to make music, I can't vouch for what you are saying. But it did make my night a little better. I was first interested in coming to Longy because I want to be the person who knows a little bit about everything, and unfortunately I (and maybe others) get discouraged by the constant pressure from the music education system to specialize and to be the absolute best in one's chosen specialization, while treating one's other classes like unwanted pickles on a sandwich. It's nice to know that there is another way.