Teens and Classical Music

April 9, 2010 at 06:02 AM ·

I am writing a paper about teens who play classical music.  I am interested in learning what kind of reactions you have gotten from other teens or from non-music teachers.  Did they encourage you?  Think you were crazy to pursue classical music?  Tell you classical music was dead?  Stories, anecdotes and comments would be appreciated. 

Replies (20)

April 9, 2010 at 06:49 AM ·

 Generally, for those who do not have any musical background or fondness for the genre, I find that they rarely even think about the subject of "classical music" much less if it's dead or not.  There are always the standard pieces that most people seem to find moving such as the canon or the Bach prelude.  And even the most hard core rap-only listeners I find tend to make exceptions for classical music given certain situations such as a scene in a movie or a nice restaurant.

I don't by any means feel that the genre is a dying breed.  If anything, with the explosion of the internet, social networking and itunes, I would say that interest is increasing.  Now more than ever before will you see medieval music groups with young members playing in it trying to explore the instruments of those days.  It has become cool and almost a point of pride for some people to have those "eccentric" hobbies.  

April 9, 2010 at 01:02 PM ·

I agree with Danielle. When I was a teen (really not that long ago), I went in a highschool where almost no one played classical music.  (and even less violin...)  Since the closest of classical ensemble we had in this highschool and in the city (cause our city has an harmony) were all bands or harmony with winds and brass only (playing much pop too). 

Generally, people who don't know music welcomed very much very lively or emotional knowned classic pieces as Pachelbel, Ave Maria, dances or waltz.  But welcome a less technical cadenzas or such...  Once or twice, other teens told me my practicing hours were obsessive... (especially if I had the misfortune to tell I sometimes did night practices).  But, generally, I was very reserved not talking of my music things to non-musician people around me. Just close friends knew it. 

Generally speaking, people of all ages who don't know how demanding music is (and never heard the struggling of beginners...) think violin is very romantic and zen. I have often been told I was lucky.  In a way, yesbut if you happen to tell about the sacrifices behind those who seem to play Romantic and zen, then you see their face change...  (people just don't want to hear this cause you break their mood and idea that violin is somehow "divine")  So I learned that the truth about what is necessary to play well violin is not something to tell to everyone...   If people want to dream, let them dream. This is your job... They'll find it out by themselves if ever they try the violin themselves...

Good luck!


April 9, 2010 at 03:16 PM ·

It's been a long time since I was a teen, if I ever was. :-), but in my capacity as a part-time adjunct lecturer at a music school, I can tell you that interest in string playing in particular and music in general is at an all-time high. Applications are way up, and the end does not appear to be in sight. Just below this, in the elementary and middle school grades, the problem is not too few students interested in strings, it is too few resources to employ more teachers. There is a definite disconnect that happens afterward, however, and I'm not sure why. My observation at most orchestra concerts is that the audience is disproportionally old-- what is called the "gray hair" syndrome. I also have accounts with CD Baby, and from there the situation looks brighter. Digital downloads of classical music are much stronger than CD sales. I still have to get my head around the idea of downloading just a single movement of a symphony in a low-resolution format, but that seems to be the way today's teens and twenty-somethings buy their music.

April 9, 2010 at 05:04 PM ·

When I was a teen (which really wasn't THAT long ago) I was ocassionally told by non-musician friends it was "weird" that I'd sometimes spend my afternoons practicing, but that was about the extent of it. Playing classical music as a teen, you generally speak about it to other teens who play classical music, not so much with those who don't. As for non-music teachers.... kids hardly want to talk to their teachers about the subject they *do* teach, let alone anything else. It would never have even occurred to me to start babbling to my chemistry teacher or my english teacher about violin. Around that age, the only people who were directly encouraging were my music teacher and my parents. No one was discouraging or ever mentioned to me anything about classical music being "dead."

April 9, 2010 at 06:56 PM ·

 Yeah I think, if you're writing a paper, the primary point to keep in mind is that musicians generally don't discuss their endeavors in the field with non-musicians.  Why would we?  It would be like trying to discuss the finer points of an excellent wine with someone who doesn't even like wine. But, then again, some people enjoy a pretentious persona =)

April 9, 2010 at 07:40 PM ·

 I have one or two friends who really love classical music as much as I do.  Different tastes for sure, but they know what I'm talking about when I complain about the unviolinistc writing in Tchaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings" or how awesome the finale to Shostakovich 5 is.  


This is the minority.  Many of my friends in orchestra think listening to classical is dorky (something I don't really understand) or it's not cool, etc.  

April 10, 2010 at 12:48 AM ·

I my experience, people who don't play don't listen. There are exceptions of course, but none of the ones I know of are teens. People know I play violin, and don't think much of it. Our school district has an orchestra. I'm not sure if many of the kids who play actually listen to classical music though.

April 10, 2010 at 04:28 AM ·

I go to an arts-focused high school, so my experiences will most definitely be different.

Most of the higher level players currently have an extreme predilection for the music of Mahler, Richard Strauss, Wagner, Bruckner, and the like.

April 10, 2010 at 06:49 AM ·

My two daughters (now 12 and 16) were both brought up with a variety of music styles and genres at their disposal. Both were schooled with piano lessons (with the same teacher) and dance (at the same school). For the record, they both have the same gene pool too. The result?

My younger daughter prefers modern music to classical, finding the latter a bit dull for her tastes. My older daughter is a devout Wagnerite and will recite The Ring chapter and verse at the slightest provocation.

This brings me to surmise that opportunity and exposure play a strong part of people's musical tastes, but their character is the ultimate catalyst.

Cheers! Dimitri

April 10, 2010 at 04:32 PM ·

 I'm a bit of a strange case, since the public high school I go to has a massive music department (probably a quarter of the school, at any one time). The idea that classical music is dead has never occurred to us, partially because it's so much of a draw for new students.

April 10, 2010 at 04:47 PM ·

I go to a normal, not high-tech overpopulated high school, and there are rarely any people who share my love for classical music. I have three friends of mine who are into it, one of which is a very talented young pianist, and the other two are in theatre, If I want to get a good dose of classical music geekery I'll talk to my Orchestra teacher. Other than that, I'm afraid, enthusiasts are few and far between- even in orchestra class there are only about four or five out of thirty that try thier best and practice regularly. 

Perhaps it's because of the stigma attached to classical music as 'boring old people music'. I found quickly that there is more to classical than meets the eye. Often I'll put on Ravel or Chausson chamber music, and people will ask if it's film music. Film music IS classical music, and so is the music in video games! If people realized this, there wouldn't be this talk of 'boring old people music'. There's more to classical than Mozart and Beethoven. 

Unfortunately, the stigma still stands, and quite frankly, it makes me sad.  

April 10, 2010 at 08:03 PM ·

Nobody I know likes classical music. Sure, there are exceptions for a few classical songs but that's it. To be honest, a while back before I started even thinking about the violin, I had the same view as everyone else: "Classical music is boring and not worth listening to, besides, I don't even understand it!".. Well, that was until I actually listened to some well known classical pieces.

Here's my contribution!


April 11, 2010 at 02:52 PM ·

Thank you.  These remarks have all been very helpful.  Talking to some teens in my area, some have expressed frustration that they feel like "outsiders" in their school communities.  I was wondering if that was what others have experienced.  Your comments have given me some broader insights.   I will be working on this project for several more days, so more comments are welcome. 


April 17, 2010 at 07:34 PM ·

People usually laugh or don't care. My teachers are somewhat supportive, but if I have to miss school for a tour or something, they get exasperated. I recently got a repetition injury and people definitely do not take me seriously when I say it came from violin.

April 18, 2010 at 05:18 AM ·

Most of the teens at my school don't appreciate classical music. They don't say it's dead but they do think it's quite lame. Painful to listen to in some cases, because apparently some teens don't like music in it's unadulterated, unfiltered form like classical is. 

April 18, 2010 at 01:02 PM ·

Something of an aside, though related. Many of my PS classroom-teacher colleagues used to tell me they were happy when their class had a number of string players, since they anticipated they would be  cooperative, hard-working, attentive & good students.

April 19, 2010 at 01:50 AM · I am a teen and I go to las vegas academy for the arts so its not weird to hear classical music being played. I use to dread the thought of playiing classical music because I thought it was dead and boring until I played mozart concerto g maj. And now I can see it builds yours skills and we are influenced to play classical music for our jurys.

April 19, 2010 at 03:01 PM ·

In my teenage years (1976-1985) Most if not all of my friends were either in orchestra, band, choir, or drama.  I was in South Texas (Corpus Christi) so anything with a violin was respected both Gringos like me ;), Hispanics & African Americans who looked at classical music with much apreciation since it was concidered furhtering advanced education!  Those that liked classical music were very incouraging. Those that did not like it stayed away from it and us.

April 19, 2010 at 05:41 PM ·

Though most of the teens I come into contact with would not consider themselves classical-music lovers, most of them can still get excited over a piece like "Jupiter" or "1812 Overture" or even "canon in D".  They don't know they like it till they try it.

An aside: I firmly believe that film muisc, video games music, folk music, etc. is a mainstay of what the future genereations will consider classical music.  After all, minuets and opera arias were culture's everyday listening 300 years ago!

May 22, 2010 at 12:59 AM ·

Well, I go to a common school and almost nobody likes classical music, my own music teacher just teaches us rock and pop and that rubish.

My classmates say I am mad, they say classical music is just useful to "relax", and I answer, "Well, you will be very relaxed listenening to Prokofiev.

I think that people is influenced by television and all that thigs, but I do not understand why they listen to "music" that uses 3 chords.

For example:

If you read an article that is about about Maddona's recital (to say something) people will be more interested in her clothes than in her performance.


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