Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Make Good Art - Make Bad Music

(All photos courtesy of Beth)
Some friends and I went off to Wagamama's to celebrate the end of our exams and the academic year.

(I was too pro at chopsticks to even be offered a fork)
We ended up buying 2 tubs of Ben & Jerry's and 3 packets of Oreos (we looked like three teenage girls who had been simultaneously dumped) whilst the lady next to us carried her Ryvita crackers and whole wheat food.

Back at Beth's, we were going to watch a movie but ended up lounging around, eating melted ice cream and talking about music. Beth is pretty good at flute (to say the least) and plays viola, and Emily plays/ed the violin and piano. I used to have flute lessons and mess about with the guitar, whilst longing for a piano and a ukulele.

One of the main things we talked about was our experiences with music - our teachers, education, and competitive environments. Beth loves orchestral playing and learnt to play in the trained and disciplined atmosphere of classical music. She's recently been discovering her appreciation for it, rather than just taking the music for granted as she's good at it. Emily's college was off-puttingly music crazy and placed a lot of emphasis on the academic side of music. I strongly prefer self-taught and independence- whilst having flute lessons for about 8 years was great and I have grades and the ability to read sheet music, I still can't work anything out by ear. But, we all agreed that it's best if you take at least one lesson to get the technique and the basics.

I kept thinking about my experiences with music, how I've always been circling around it but never really able to be a part of it. I guess one of the things that put me off was the constant pressure - music as an academic subject and a ranking in the orchestra/group, you're graded and placed in a hierarchy. This stinks of orchestral bitterness, I know. But that seems to be the curse of classical music - it's seen as 'high culture', 'high art' - and it's for the trained elite, and only the trained elite.

Never approaching music as something fun, with room for error killed it for me. We've all got this idea that the only people who can be good at music are the ones born with it. But even if it's true, that doesn't mean the rest of us mere mortals can't have a go.

Music may have its complex theory and text books. You can read it, analyse it, work out the key signature and so on. Train your posture, your technique; finger positions, embouchure and so forth - and it'll all help, but music isn't a science. It's an art, and it needs your soul.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is - music is for everyone. For the gifted, for the performers, for the recluse following YouTube tutorials, for the ones singing in the shower. Just make music, and make it for yourself.

I'll be picking up guitar again and hunting down a ukulele, and Emily said she's been inspired to pick up her music again over the summer.

So here's to playing loudly and playing badly - but at least we're making music. 

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