How to get general public to make music? How to keep people playing after school?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Pete Anderson, Nov 27, 2011.

  1. Pete Anderson

    Pete Anderson Pianissimo User

    Feb 27, 2008
    I think that amateur musicians are probably the people most likely to support the arts. Somebody who plays in their local community band is probably more likely to vote in favor of music/drama/etc in their town/schools, go to see concerts, etc. I haven't seen studies done on it, but it seems logical to me. Why would somebody who is never exposed to orchestral or band music want to go see a live performance?

    Thus, it seems to me that getting the general public more involved with making music is really going to be vital to band and orchestra music surviving and thriving in the future. If even just 10% of Americans played in a community orchestra once per week, do you think our orchestras would be in as much trouble as they are? As it is, I would estimate that only maybe 2-3% of working adults make music of any kind on a regular basis, and an even smaller percentage are part of a band, orchestra or choir. I could be wrong about this; I'm pretty much just guessing here based upon personal observation.

    I think the time has probably never been better for a resurgence of amateur music, really. People are stressed out, depressed, hate their lives, and actually as a whole we're listening to more music than ever before in human history... People NEED to MAKE music. They need creative outlets - they just don't realize it. How do we make them see how important and good for you it is to not only listen to music, but participate in its creation?

    Put up signs and offer some number of free lessons to adult beginners/comebackers, to try and encourage them to play?
    Start small, no-pressure ensembles with non-musician friends?

    I want to see music be a big part of average joe American's life - I want them to have the same hunger for it that I have. I think everyone actually already has it deep down but they just don't quite know what it is... Look at how people can't go 20 minutes without listening to music these days.

    As much as I would like to believe it can happen, changing the lifestyles of older people who haven't touched an instrument in 20 years is probably not realistic. Probably the best thing is to make sure we grab the younger kids who are playing instruments in their school bands/orchestras. How do we instill that "hunger" in them? And I use the term "hunger" because I think it extends beyond just making music fun. Music can't compete in terms of the "fun factor". A kid can have a lot of fun in band class but stop playing once he gets to college because video games are more fun, or he'd rather watch Jersey Shore.

    I think the "hunger" is the need to express things. How do we instill this need into kids as early as possible (a lot of kids only play for 2 or 3 years...)? Focus on getting students to understand, appreciate, feel and express the emotion of the music as much as possible, I guess? Ask them how they're feeling, and find a piece to play that fits their mood? Maybe try to have conversations with them through music via simple improvisation?

    I dunno. Thoughts?
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2011
  2. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    Re: How to get general public to make music? How to keep people playing after school

    Yes but are they really listening? It may also be that they desperately need a sound background to soothe their attention deficient brains.

    The problem is that music has become an object of mass consumption so overabundant that it has lost a lot of its value. The worst blow was, in my opinion, the standard slicing of it in 3 min "songs" for convenience of computer softwares. The standardization of art for the sake of machines and business.

    The pervasive crap that can be heard 24 hrs a day on most radio stations does not help either. I avoid talking about music with most people because it inevitably veers on to names and styles of which I have little or no knowledge, music that was mostly playing a social role during a period of their life, music that is only heard and almost never played.

    All in all, I believe it boils down to the role of parents. My family was not musical at all (I can't remember any of my family member who played an instrument) so I was not made to learn when I was young. Still, my mom would put some Beethoven on to keep me busy and it worked. My dad let me put on his LPs of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington or Jacques Loussier, even when my sis and I were still little, without supervision. If I had not been exposed to real music in that way, I might never have decided to learn later.

    As for what to do in the current lansdcape to encourage people to play, I'm not sure.
  3. Mark_Kindy

    Mark_Kindy Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 11, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    Re: How to get general public to make music? How to keep people playing after school

    I wrote a blog on pop music (it was in response to an article, so it may be hard to understand as I worded it) previously: Mark Kindy's Official Webpage

    I agree with Al very much. I think music now has been reduced to background noise and meant for social consumption. It seems the majority of people don't know how to appreciate music with more than four chords....

    I think playing in public helps instill this "hunger". Or bringing great music to the public. Music which really touches the hearts and souls.
    I've seem a positive response in my community from having a Jazz festival hosted by my former high school. Perhaps this is something that could also be implemented.
  4. Satchmo Brecker

    Satchmo Brecker Piano User

    Jul 19, 2010
    Re: How to get general public to make music? How to keep people playing after school

    I agree with your motivation but I think it'll never happen. Instrument costs are out of site. Leisure time is almost non-existent because both parents usually need to work now. And passive entertainment has reached new heights. Even what passes for hobbies these days are mostly "assemble our pre-made product" type things. IMHO Materialism/Consumerism, which is rampant in the US at least, is contradictory to any kind of self-awareness through the arts. The whole point of M/C is "don't think, just buy buy buy".
  5. skyline73

    skyline73 New Friend

    Jul 23, 2011
    Re: How to get general public to make music? How to keep people playing after school

    I've been thinking about this very topic lately. I'm one of the guilty ones, having stayed away from performing music for about 15 years. Now that I'm back into two ensembles, I kick myself in the butt for waiting so long. They may not play the exact music that I like to play, and of course you have to deal with politics (playing a lower part than somebody that is definitely not better than you just because they've been in the group longer), but it's definitely a start. I, myself, hope to some day start my own community jazz band. I have no idea how to even do this, but I think a lot of the problem is that nobody is trying to reach out to the younger crowd. Most ensembles (not all, though) only like to play the classics, etc. and don't even try to get the school-aged children involved by playing more "current-sounding" music. I remember many concerts back from my music camp days where most of the kids were falling asleep because they just weren't interested in the type of music that the orchestra was playing. Then you'd have a concert with a jazz group or a guitarist that actually played some cool, hip stuff, and the crowd was on the edge of their seats.

    I think that there IS a way to reach out to "new blood", both young and old. It just takes some effort. I like all types of music, so if you can put a group together that plays a wide variety of different types of music, go to the schools and ask to play a little for an assembly or something, get together some local gigs to play, and then ADVERTISE ADVERTISE ADVERTISE you should be able to generate a little interest. Then make sure you keep trying to get people involved by offering master classes, lessons, etc. to try and build up a base of people that you can perform with. Obviously, the school districts and their ever-shrinking budgets aren't going to do anything anymore, so it is up to us!

    I don't know... maybe this is all a pipe dream, but I still have hope that we can save music... and I'm going to keep on trying. :)
  6. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Re: How to get general public to make music? How to keep people playing after school

    In Germany, every village has a town band and in Protestant regions a Posaunenchor (a brass band for church music). There you would meet folk you would immediately speak to you in the ”familiar” form rather than the “formal” form, whether they be doctors, lawyers, carpenters, bakers or shopkeepers. It cemented the village together, and if you needed a hand they would help and vice-versa. Done deal, no questions asked—an instant circle of friends.

    It used to be the norm in 19th century America to have a brass band or town band in the more rural parts, and the same thing happened. The butcher playing baritone badly might just well be the same guy with the volunteer fire department saving a dog from a burning home.

    Music will survive without us, but as for that sense of community, we now have TM, but it isn’t the same—if your dog is trapped in a burning building, by the time I get there you’ll have one crispy critter.

    I dunno what the solution is.
  7. Pete Anderson

    Pete Anderson Pianissimo User

    Feb 27, 2008
    Re: How to get general public to make music? How to keep people playing after school

    I can't find the source right now, but I'm pretty sure I read an article a few years back that talked about wild primates (don't remember if it was gorillas or chimps or what) rhythmically beating on dead logs, trees, etc. Music has probably been a part of us for hundreds of thousands of years and I don't think it's going to go anywhere... I'm just worried about classical and band music staying relevant :play:
  8. mgcoleman

    mgcoleman Mezzo Forte User

    Jun 22, 2010
    Re: How to get general public to make music? How to keep people playing after school

    I know everyone experiences, remembers and processes events differently, but here are the the items I have found common to those amateur ensembles that were truly entertaining and enjoyable (as a spectator and a performer):
    - Leadership: director/organizers were not stuck on themselves being seen as high and mighty or requiring being called "the maestro" (which is a given/earned title, not a claimed or demanded title)
    - Purpose: clearly stated and something the group lives
    - Commitment and longevity: short-term players always welcome, but long-term members were the backbone (lead positions definitely had an element of tenure to them)
    - Fun and a sense of humor: always present even when working hard on something
    - Marketing: members were each, individually, marketing the group and always inviting others to come listen or give a go at playing.

    So, those items translate, in order, to the following atmosphere for an average amateur/comeback player:

    - Leadership: nobody likes a jerk boss, especially when its a volunteer/community thing...keep it real and get over yourself if you are in charge. Be the guy everyone knows, greets, etc.
    - Purpose: you have to be who you say you are going to be or you can expect outsiders who are potential members will be confused or, even worse, put off by what they see as deceit.
    - Commitment and longevity: recognition at performances and, once in a while, a featured part. Celebrate new and old blood. If you make new folks see and feel the pull of dedicating themselves to the organization, more loyalty can be gained.
    - Fun and a sense of humor: back to the volunteer/community idea...working hard/smart is necessary to avoid sounding like 3 dying goats in a box, but laughing just as much is probably a good thing.
    - Marketing by members: this is where the real personal connection starts and is cemented. Folks returning to music are probably no different than people returning to tennis, bowling, running, bridge or any other activity. Expect them to be hesitant, a bit unsure of their abilities and, of course, nervous! The best way to knock that down is, based on what I have seen, is being an informal sponsor/mentor - try to remember all the stuff you didn't know when you started with the group...that person probably knows even less and you can make them feel welcome, informed and more a part of the group.

    There's my two cents.
  9. PatMurphy

    PatMurphy Pianissimo User

    Aug 9, 2009
    Cherry Hill NJ
    Re: How to get general public to make music? How to keep people playing after school

    I play jazz to a full house almost every week. (I am a rank amatuer)
    It is a Jam session that has been going on in Phila over 20 years.
    The reason it works is because it is very loose as opposed to a band with structured times, hours, music etc.
    We get all ages and types of folks. Several attorneys, doctors, 1 Judge(a drummer), teachers, young people from High scholl to older than me.
    89 Years old to be exact. Played in the navy band 1942.
    The audience LOVE it and come back every week.
    It brings out the best in the players. I know I am way better with the cheer of the crowd than a drab practice room.
    It is my incentive to keep practicing . My ego could not stand making a fool pf myself.
    The magic part is the free form jam, as opposed to the structured band that practices and practices for a 1 performance
    is there are no grand preparation. No rigid boss etc. 9 out of 10 performers are very good. We get at least 1 foriegner from an asian or european nation every week.

    How manytimes have you had folks looking forward to your playing every week. Cheering, clapping if you did good, as if they were your parents.

    The hard part is finding 2 keyboard players who can swing. Who know the "changes". Can keep the melody line there so you can find your way back but never get in the way
    This place has non-stop music from 7:30 to 11 or until we run out of drummers. But that never happens.
    Sound like FUN for performers and audience? You bet! That is why it works
  10. Mark_Kindy

    Mark_Kindy Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 11, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    Re: How to get general public to make music? How to keep people playing after school

    That's a very interesting concept, Pat. So it is mainly a combo like setting then, or big band, or a bit of both? I got the combo feel from your post. It sounds like a lot of fun. I'll come check it out if I ever end up in Philly again

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