There are many reasons why I advocate for expanding classical music education to include the study of music from traditions beyond the European canon. In this post I will focus on just one.
Things unfamiliar to our personal experience, upbringing, or education often remain invisible to us.
This inconvenient truth is practically screaming at us in conversations related to how people with different backgrounds and experiences interpret the same events.
This is also true in Music.
For classically trained musicians, the idea of pulse, groove, or clavé is largely invisible.
Any groove-based music remains mostly invisible to many conservatory musicians, as it was to me before I ventured out beyond my training, because these styles are not taught or recognized in the classical canon.
For example, Black American music, Latin music, Appalachian music, African music, and Indian music all rely on groove, pulse, or clavé.
My aim here is not to denigrate classical music, which I love, but rather to inspire classical musicians to discover more by listening deeper.
In the same way, when we listen deeper to the experiences of peoples who are different than ourselves, we can't help but become enriched.
The difficulty of many political conversations around us currently has to do in part with how uncomfortable people feel about listening deeper.
Because the need to listen deeper threatens us to our core through the implication that maybe there's something we've been missing or that we are in fact missing.
That maybe we need to reexamine some deeply ingrained assumptions.
And maybe we don’t have it all figured out.
I am humbled by the realization that MANY things are invisible to me.
At the same time, I feel empowered by believing that these things will become more visible if I listen deeper.
Since my classical training, my musical journey has included a series of eye-opening introductions to music from people with different experiences, backgrounds, and educations.
These include introductions to Black American music, Appalachian music, Cuban music, and Spanish Flamenco.
I may have condescended certain styles at first listen, because of my own ignorance and training that told me there was a “right” way or a “wrong” way.
It was only once I stood IN THE ROOM with musicians from other traditions that I was able to start to appreciate the music, and then, over time, come to have deep respect for it, and begin to partly understand it, by listening deeply.
That's what I wish for all classically trained musicians.
Because a more broadly informed view of music, or of the human experience in general, is a better view.
And besides, it will only improve their classical playing and teaching!
This is a core value of Creative Strings, which we attempt to present through our workshops, online training, free videos and free podcast series.
It’s part of why I will continue advocating for broader inclusion within the culture of classical musicians.
Our latest episode of the Creative Strings Podcast features a Spanish musician informed by intersections between Classical, Jazz and Flamenco.
Among other topics we discuss,
>- Clavé as a mantra
>- Overcoming fear in classical music
>- The academizing of jazzTweet
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