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How to Get Young People to Like Classical Music

Classical music is dying! It has been for decades, even generations. You read about it all the time: that young people aren’t interested in classical music, and that there should be a way to get them interested. In a recent article, pianist Stephen Hough suggested that shorter concerts may attract a younger audience.

This is a false problem, however. Young people like all kinds of music: my son is into EDM (electronic dance music), yet he’s been listening to some Satie recently, and is open to other types of classical music, even though he doesn’t go to classical concerts.

I actually discovered classical music by listening to Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, whose Pictures at an Exhibition was intriguing enough that I wanted to hear the original. Of course, those days of bombastic prog rock are gone.

Some people say that “education” is the key. That young people should be indoctrinated to like classical music; brainwashed, as it were. Yes, that’s a bit extreme, but that’s what the well-meaning people really mean. That may help, by exposing more young people to classical music, but it’s not the solution.

I’m not sure there is a single solution, but I can think of a few things wrong with the way this question is framed:

  • There is an assumption that classical music is somehow “better” than other kinds of music. This makes it elitist. Tell a teenager to see something elitist and they’ll probably balk; they want to do what their tribe does.
  • There is also an assumption that classical music needs to be “explained,” through pre-show talks, program notes, and presentations. Why? Does jazz need explanation? Does the blues need a pre-show talk? This makes classical music seem difficult, and goes against the idea of it being something people can discover easily.
  • The whole concept of classical concerts as stodgy affairs with musicians wearing tuxes with tails is very off-putting, and underscores the fact that this music is archaic, anachronistic. The obsessive need for silence, no applause after movements, etc., makes the experience daunting.
  • The sheer number of composers, and the names on programs, confuse. Let’s assume that I’m 20 years old, and I’m musically curious. I look at concert listings and I have no idea who most of these composers are. I’ve heard of Mozart and Beethoven, but who the heck is Rautavaara? Who’s this Korngold guy? How do you even pronounce Berlioz? Make thematic programs, build them around an idea, an instrument, a feeling, or something more creative.
  • Cheap tickets for young people are fine, but I would bet most of them are grabbed by music students, so this doesn’t help the musically curious.
  • Integrate conservatories into universities. Students do what their friends do. If people studying business have friends who are into music, they may tag along to see a concert. But if young classical musicians are in a separate educational institution, they won’t have many non-musician friends.

I’m just spitballing a few ideas here, but it’s annoying to constantly read articles about this, most of which simply reinforce the elitist nature of classical music. Most people in the world don’t care for western classical music; we need to accept this. People who do are the 1% of music lovers. This number is not going to magically increase.

Larry Coryell – Toronto Under the Sign of Capricorn

I finally tracked this down. I had the album this track was on – European Impressions – back in the 70s, and I loved what Coryell could do with an acoustic guitar. I managed to figure out bits of this piece, but not much. It’s a long suite with parts ranging from atonal solos to jazzy strumming. This is a video of him performing the piece live, sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s. I saw him perform this solo acoustic stuff once, of all places at the Rasthaus in the Queens College student union (I think). It was an amazing concert. I’d love to get this album; it’s out of print, and I don’t have turntable, so if anyone has it, get in touch.

In any case, enjoy this 9+ minute example of true guitar artistry.

Learn How to Run Virtual Operating Systems on your Mac with Take Control of Parallels Desktop 12

Tc parallelsIf you need to run Windows alongside your Mac apps or test macOS 10.12 Sierra while booting safely from 10.11 El Capitan, your solution is at hand with the just-released Parallels Desktop 12, which was the first virtualization app for the Mac when it debuted 10 years ago.

In this book, virtualization expert Joe Kissell explains how beginners can set up a virtual machine to run Windows or another operating system, share files with a virtual machine, and switch smoothly between virtualized apps and Mac apps.

For those who are familiar with virtualization in general and previous versions of Parallels, he explores the many preferences and settings you can tweak for specific situations, to increase performance, or to enhance security. Joe also offers tips and directions for connecting peripherals to your virtual machine and discusses snapshots, backups, malware prevention, troubleshooting, and more!

Get Take Control of Parallels Desktop 12.

Ask the iTunes Guy: Selecting multiple playlists, iOS Music icons, and more

itunesguy-thum-100004188-gallery.jpg“Why can’t I do [enter your pet peeve here] in iTunes?” It’s a common question; not that everyone wants to do the same thing, but I get a lot of email from readers wondering why a specific feature isn’t available in iTunes. In this week’s column, I look at one such missing feature: the inability to select multiple playlists to be able to move them to a folder. There is a workaround, of course, and I explain it. I also discuss the perplexing icons on the iOS Music app, and a case of a possible missing Repeat button in that app.

Read this week’s Ask the iTunes Guy at Macworld.

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Writings about Macs, music and more by Kirk McElhearn