Whoa. I just started a blog, which is definitely outside of my comfort zone. Well, I did have a MySpace blog but everyone knows that’s not very cool anymore. So here I go: Through this blog, I intend to share my true thoughts on what it’s really like to be a violist in this incestuous classical music world that I both love and question. Being a classical musician isn’t always easy, or always all that it is cracked up to be, but it’s my life, and I love it.
What I’m doing with my life: I am the violist of a pretty special string quartet. We are 4 mighty women on a mission to make classical music cool and relevant. Our actual mission statement is more refined and expansive than that obviously, but making music relatable is a big part of it. In fact, for me, one of the most exciting parts about what we are able to do with Chicago Q is to bring classical music to those who otherwise wouldn’t ordinarily seek it out. It’s confusing to me — let me explain.
Walking around the city of Chicago with an enormous double violin/viola case on my back attracts a lot of attention, as you can imagine. Especially because I’m under five feet. When strangers randomly stop to ask me what the hell it is that I’m carrying, (favorite guesses include: portable massage table, and rifle) you can’t imagine what enthusiasm my answer elicits. Seriously. ”Oh, you play the violin, I LOVE the violin! I used to play, and I really want my kids to play!”. or “I love classical music, it’s so soothing and relaxing…” Amazing right?! People love what it is we do. They really do. So why don’t they seek it out?
Oh gosh, here comes my rant. Errrrr… A large part of it is because of us, the musicians, I think, anyway. I think there are some really simple things we could all do to help our community.
BE GRACIOUS. Really. I feel like SO many classical musicians walk around feeling entitled. Why? I couldn’t tell you. Probably because what we do is really hard, and takes a ton of hard work. I don’t care, still doesn’t give you the right to expect people to know what it is that you do, or anything about the culture. It’s your job to tell them – and your job to not judge someone who doesn’t know how the hell to pronounce Mozart. Or to not roll your eyes at the person who loves Pachelbel’s Cannon and requests Freebird to your wedding quartet. Okay, well maybe the Freebird thing, but still. I have witnessed so many situations where musicians have seriously been offended by someone outside of the community inquiring about what it is that they do. Our attitudes of today are going to effect our support in the future. Come on people – stop being snobby – for the future of classical music!
And something else – I feel like people want a different vibe. Or maybe just me… Ha! I’m not sure why, but the older I get, the less interested I am in seeing the symphony. Someone once told me that in music, it doesn’t matter who is playing the instrument – it’s what they say with it. And I disagree. I want to be at a concert where I can better connect with the performers. I want to hear their voices and learn about their personalities. I want to feel their enthusiasm. Something about small ensembles who work their asses off to put on a concert makes the experience so much more exciting. Watching symphony members with blank faces chit chat while they half face the audience at Symphony Center doesn’t do it for me anymore, regardless of how amazing the music is. I’m just not interested. I want to be surrounded by enthusiasm, creativity, humbleness, and love.
Good thing I live in Chicago!