Classical Music’s Decline

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March 12, 2017 – MCAT CARS Passage

Question: What is your summary of the author’s main ideas. Post your own answer in the comments before reading those made by others.

Classical music’s decline in America is likely to make it better, more interesting and more American.

Sure fewer people will hear it. That’s already happening. Attendance at classical concerts is down 30 percent since the NEA started counting heads in 1982, and the drop remains steady.

The reasons can be summed up in two sentences. As a society we’ve become casual, multicultural and multimedia. Classical is, by and large, none of those things.

The sad irony in this is that music is better than it has been in 200 years, and anyone who spends time in a big-city concert hall knows how close to perfection most performances of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven have become. Musicians are just more skilled.

Students start learning earlier and spend more time practicing because they can afford both. Technology and transportation allow them access to the best equipment and teachers in the world. Music schools have mastered ways to nurture versatile players who hit nearly every note while respecting their own musical personality.

The high quality of music school graduates is one of the reasons classical will survive. Full-time orchestra jobs will decline, but they’ll find ways to play and pay the bills, performing with quartets and trios instead of large ensembles so concert proceeds are split among fewer musicians; recording their own music and selling it on the Internet; marketing themselves on social media; commissioning their own music; and funding concert tours through crowdsourcing websites.

It’s an entrepreneurial, pull-yourself- up-by-the-bootstraps, be-your-own-boss, All-American way of making a living, a significant departure from the European model of working as a face-less, orchestra player who has no control over what and when things get played. Musicians have seized the opportunity to expand their repertoires to include new music, often from diverse young composers, that large, established operations often ignore.

These small, skilled ensembles are a boon to classical fans in smaller, non-coastal cities because they are essentially portable. It’s easy to travel four string players to Montana or North Dakota, and the new business model demands it. That means the hinterlands are now exposed to the best musicians out there; classical has gone national, just like pop.

If musicians want to play the big Brahms or Sibelius symphonies, they’ll get a chance, although more and more that looks like volunteer work, done on the side with community orchestras, which are reporting huge increases in ticket sales in smaller cities as large, all-professional groups struggle.

Community concerts are cheaper, fewer and maybe not quite as good because only a few players get a salary. They’re also noisier, rowdier and have fewer rules. They’ll still seat you if you arrive late, maybe let you Tweet during the show. They’re more casual, multicultural and multimedia. More American.

Adapted from denverpost.

Review

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This was an article on Music.

Have a great day.
Jack Westin
MCAT CARS Instructor.
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33 Comments


  1. Classical Music decline=good+ interesting+ american.

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  2. Classical music is in decline but it’s beneficial to few players

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  3. Traditional classical music via “unAmerican” professional orchestras is in decline making way for the rise of “more American” community orchestras and small professional ensembles

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  4. MI: decline in classical music = good because we have become more multicultural

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  5. Classic music decline has led to better more relevant music such as community orchestras

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  6. Classical = declined = more American; survival of Classical = entrepreneur; author neutral

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  7. class music decrease = better music, musicians more skilled + class music increase, music model changed

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  8. Classical music In America is declining meanwhile musicians are getting better and creating it more American

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  9. MI: Classical Music decline -> Music more American / Modern

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  10. Classical music=more american + musicians= more skilled now

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  11. classical =/= casual like america. students today = resources increased

    classical decrease, CW alive + become americanized thru community concerts

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  12. classical music decreasing, becoming more american = smaller groups, touring more, larger groups only through community concerts.

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  13. classical music=/= declining because of high quality music schools

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  14. classical music=declining+ survival=quality music school

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  15. Modern music=better
    C.M. groups: decreasing large/ ^ small/community groups + more modern

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  16. Classical music as a genre is changing. Interest in the traditional mode has decline, as quality of music has increased. America is more diverse, digital, and portable than ever before. As a result, classical music is becoming all of those things. The pomp and circumstance it is generally associated with may be on its way out, but musicians will still play, make a living, and entertain crowds.

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  17. Classical music = decline but musicians = more skilled, new ensembles = appear, and music = more casual and multi culture.

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  18. classical music= decline but musicians= more skilled and music = more American

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  19. Classical music decline in America = more causal & multimedia = music becomes smaller scaled, entrepreneurial + musicians become more skilled and have more control

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  20. Classical music declining in America based on attendance (evidence) – American society has become more casual, multicultural and multimedia (supported below), classical music is none of those things (no support) – musicians more skilled = perfect performance – technology + transportation + quality education facilitates mastery, full-time orchestra jobs declining, smaller groups instead of large ensembles – American modus operandi a departure from European model (traditional), more entrepreneurial and versatile – new model more feasible in American context, music reaches out to more people – large ensemble (motley crew) still doable (contrast with all-professional group, revenue, etiquette) and is every bit American (modern) in that sense / How this music genre has been re-invented by the Americans

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  21. classical music + community = American, classical music = reach small cities, music is best today because of skilled and individualized artists

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  22. Classical music declines as America gets more casual + multicultural, but the decline is good bc it has gone nationwide like pop. America’s high-quality classical graduates = entrepreneurial + has control over of their concert.

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  23. MIP: decline in classical= morph into more americ and getting better
    tone: + for new classical

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  24. (1) CM decline = good
    (2) CM = improve

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  25. True CM has decreased but has changed into an Americanized multicultural and multi-medial form
    music today > past music

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  26. MIP: Decline of classical music = good + become better; CM will suvive
    Tone: Neutral

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  27. MIP: classical music decline = good; musicians increase skill

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  28. MIP: classical music = better now b/c of decline + better resources; tone = neutral

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  29. Classical music isn’t as popular as it was, but people are still appreciating it, just on a more local scale

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  30. Main idea: Classical music = declining; Highly skilled musicians = classical music survival = small + individualized
    Tone: Positive (towards change)
    Extreme tone: No

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  31. MIP: Entrepreneurial shift in music , Smaller cities have increased access to classical

    Reply

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