08. July 2011 · 10 comments · Categories: Ramble

Gee, did the above get your attention? ;-)

Recently I’ve read a few blogs that imply that musicians don’t care and are lazy. Why? Because the bloggers who made those statements weren’t getting comments from musicians. Thus, they determine, musicians either don’t care, are lazy, or both!

Now I do get a few comments on and off here (and I love ‘em!) but I never thought people just didn’t care about what they were doing, or the state of our profession, or what a reviewer says, merely because they didn’t respond to something I wrote about our biz, the state of classical music these days, or what a reviewer said, on MY blog. I just assumed that not all that many people read my blog and those that did didn’t feel comfortable commenting. Some of my readers prefer, I know, to remain anonymous. Others might comment, but pretty much stay away from the controversial stuff.

Some of my colleagues have made it pretty plain to me — And yes, I can handle this sort of thing. Well, most of the time! — that this blog is a narcissistic thing to do. (Heck, they’re probably right!) Some think I’m absolutely bonkers for being so honest about my fears and foibles here. (Heck, they might be right too!) And yes, there are also some Luddites who don’t know I have a blog. It’s not something I ever announce to people. They find it or they don’t. The comment or they don’t. I’m fine with “whatever”.

I am weary of hearing that just because an individual blogger doesn’t get comments on her or his blog from performers, “musicians don’t care”. That, to me, comes across as pretty narcissistic too.

Oh well. Rant over and out. (But I’ll bet I hear from some bloggers that I’ve now insulted. So sorry! I’m just saying that the lack of comments isn’t really a way to determine if musicians care or not.) I could write more, but I guess I’ll go take a nap. Because I’m just that lazy.

10 Comments

  1. Insecurity, dare I suggest? Maybe those complaining bloggers who dismiss musicians as lazy are just not writing anything worth commenting on. Or that’s what they fear, at least.
    You can’t blame anyone for longing for a little affirmation and positive feedback for your efforts, but really. It’s like a singer who blames being out of work on stupid auditioners who don’t know a great talent when they hear one. There is of course some truth to this in certain instances, but isn’t he likelihood more that the singer just isn’t that great?
    Besides, aren’t most musicians hustling to just make a living? Who’s got time to worry about commenting on blogs?
    You just keep on doing what feels good to you and ignore the schmucks.

  2. Hi Matthew! Great to hear from you!

    Yes, I think it’s pretty darn silly to complain about musicians not commenting. And what a silly blog entry in any case.

    Hope you are doing well. Still have great memories of the Brahms! I sure wish I could be in NYC for La Calisto.

  3. Brava Patty, for expressing your honest feelings. I’m not a professional musician but I love and live music and truly sympathize with issues that beset those in the music profession and those of my own profession: architecture. But, from my musical perspective, I can feel the dedication and passion that most musicians give to their music which, to me, is electrifying in itself. What I hear in a good performance is the result of hard work that comes from the heart and makes a real connection to me, the listener who is drawn in and becomes at one with the whole picture. In my previous work (retired now), sometimes it was very difficult to keep my head above the trees to see the simplicity and beauty within the big picture.

  4. Thanks, James, and nice to see you hear on this little blog ‘o mine! :-)

    I’m going to guess I may have stepped on toes by writing what I wrote. I might even regret it later, as I’m not very good with confrontation. We’ll see!

    The majority of musicians I know truly DO give it their all. To then spend their free time commenting … it just isn’t what they want to do after working so diligently and so hard. I understand. (I’m just a wee bit of a blogger addict, so I’m crazy that way!)

    But mostly I just want to thank you for writing and for your kind words! :-)

  5. Matthew (and Patty),

    I don’t think musicians are lazy. I’m sorry if you felt my article said so. The musicians I know are extremely dedicated, hard working professionals, very passionate about their craft –much more so than many high tech professionals I know.

    I know the musicians care. They get angry and frustrated when their hard work goes unappreciated. My question is how do they communicate that caring beyond the concert stage.

    I did suggest the lack of comments to the post show a sign of apathy, but like your title, I was hoping to get some reaction from my audience, the people I really want to reach, professional musicians in orchestras around the country that are struggling to make ends meet. Based on your own post I think these very musicians may be missing the point.

    My opinion posts (in their own small way) are trying to affect change, get people to think differently about how they do what they do. Plenty of posts go uncommented and, as you say, ‘I’m fine with “whatever”.’

    My blog post isn’t about being narcissistic. Having a blog is narcissistic, certainly, but the post is about something more…. It’s about taking responsibility for an ensemble’s success. Just playing good music isn’t enough. It is also about sharing tidbits on the life of a musician with the audience (a peek behind the curtain) that works extremely well with other kinds of music audiences.

    I’ve heard many great orchestras, and if their music was enough to bring in the crowds they’d have packed houses every night. But major orchestras around the country are struggling… We can lay lots of blame as to why, lots of reasons people don’t “listen” to classical music anymore, but the truth is people still want classical music. Classical music downloads are huge for the the recording industry; people still love classical music. They just aren’t coming to the concert halls, not like they should (could) be. Perhaps (and this is the discussion I wanted to start) it is because classical music occurs in a vacuum – the audience has very little chance to interact with the performers and to get to know the ‘story behind the music’.

    Publicity isn’t something new. In Mahler’s time, playbills and fliers were used to drum up an audience. In the late 20th century, radio and television were added to the list. However, none of these “tools” were as immediate or as potentially personal as the internet. One Youtube video can go viral and in less than 48 hours have 100k fans. Another video can get little or no notice from the public. The difference isn’t necessarily quality, but more to do with how many people are talking about it –the power of the individual voice when raised collectively to become a throng. Somebody tells 40-50 of their friends about the video, and they tell 40-50 of their friends… it spirals out of control.

    What I’m proposing in my post is that classical musicians take a role in getting people back to the concert hall. You said in a tweet that musicians think of themselves as performers and not promoters. Yet, a young, hungry up-and-coming band will spend tireless hours self-promoting. Even big name artists find themselves in the role of self-promotion and rightfully so; they are sharing their passion not just on stage but through Facebook and twitter. Audiences of a certain age expect this type of promotion, but the classical music world has been slow to adapt.

    In a world of choices we have to be passionate enough about our music to want to self-promote. Because if we’re not passionate enough to say “hey, come see our show!” then why would the audience become passionate enough to attend?

    What I’m trying to say is – Be passionate about music, enough to take a moment once a week to tell your friends just how passionate you are. It will make a difference.

    for reference:
    Too Busy, Too Lazy or Just Can’t be Bothered?”

  6. Well that’s the lengthiest comment I’ve ever received. How ’bout that!

    I’m going to be brief, though, as I really haven’t the time (or actually the inclination at the moment) to really write anything of great length.

    We orchestral musicians are, for the most part, employees of an organization. We are also the product. In most circumstances all publicity is done by our management, and we are not only not expected to do that, but it is requested we don’t do much of that sort of thing. They are the ones who control all of that, and suggesting that we do it would take that control out of their hands. Yes, a “a young, hungry up-and-coming band will spend tireless hours self-promoting” … probably with the blessing of their management, but not always. But we don’t have that job, we don’t have management’s blessing, and we simply don’t have the time! I’m a performer. I’m also a music teacher. I have to make reeds. I have to practice. This is one of the reasons, I think, that there aren’t all that many musician-run orchestras. Our skills are not on PR or financial issues or scheduling … you get the idea! I have to do a recital every other year at my university and having to plan all of that convinces me that I haven’t the talent for that! In addition, I’m an extreme introvert. Only with my oboe in hand, sitting on stage or in the pit, do I suddenly feel at all comfortable with my “voice” (which is, of course, the sound of the oboe!). So I just don’t see all of what you suggest we do be our responsibility.

    I do, of course, promote things on my blog. But as I mentioned before, my blog has a very small readership (as you can see if you click on the sitemeter link at the very bottom of the home page!). I write because I like to. I write for anyone who is interested in what a “B” player’s life is like. (You’ll notice that there are VERY few bloggers who are playing in the “top 10″, and those that do blog a lot less frequently than I, as they are incredibly busy with their work.)

    Do we tell our friends how passionate we are in our work. Oh you BET we do. We just don’t all do it online. Believe me, we ARE passionate. Enough so that many have to deal with what is called the “Freeway Philharmonic”, making a pittance but loving the music.

    I think the newer, younger, inventive groups are doing what you want, Chip; self-promotion, blogs, YouTube … while they work in other jobs to make a living.

    So that’s my excuse and I’m stickin’ to it. ;-)

  7. Patty, I work for a professional organization and I hear what your saying about it being your job to play well, but not your job to promote. It’s the same here. I guess that’s what I disagree with.

    Playing in an orchestra should be less a job and more a passion. I’m certain your passionate about playing; it comes through loud and clear on your blog. But from what I’ve seen the administration of orchestras have turned passionate musicians into lesser employees. Maybe I have my head in the clouds, but I think musicians would enjoy it better if administration didn’t treat them just like employees. It would probably cause a host of problems as a business model. I’m not business minded. I am passionate about the music and want it to be heard!

    The administrative staff and I are in constant disagreements with how separate the two entities are, musicians vs administration. There are arguments, disagreements and frustrations between the two because they seem to be going to odds with how things should be done. Many of the musicians are dear friends. They end up feeling like bastard stepchildren or lesser employees of an organization that really is their heart and soul that makes it live. But, for some reason, the administration doesn’t see it that way. (boy am I going to be in trouble for saying this on the internet)

    YOU do a great job of promoting both classical music and your passion. That’s way beyond what I’m suggesting. One FB or tweet a week talking about the orchestra you play with doesn’t seem like a lot to ask. The marketing departments should welcome this sort of contribution with open arms (although they don’t). It shouldn’t have to be market-speak either – just an honest -this is how I feel about what I’m doing, why I’m excited.

    Maybe it’s not the musicians but the administration departments that are stifling the social media expression. I don’t know. I just think if we could get more musicians talking about what they do and why they love it, we’d get more people to the concert halls – which is really all I want!!!

  8. I understand your intentions, Chip. I’m just not sure that all performers are gifted in communication. I’m not sure everyone feels as if that is where they want to put their energy, either. This is why some opted for a management run organization, perhaps.

    I also happen to know that some of us can’t write, some of us can’t speak, and some can’t do either.

    I know a lot of performers whine about management. It’s the nature of the biz. It’s like oboe players whining about reeds! That doesn’t mean we’re gonna quit oboe or that we want management to disappear (for the most part).

    For a time I made jewelry. I absolutely loved the craft. I made so much it was really time to either sell the stuff or give it away. Well, my introverted self was able to take it to orchestra rehearsals and leave it out for people to peruse, but no WAY was I going to actually do more than that. My extroverted father took the jewelry to work with him and in his typical sweet but persistent way showed every person what I did. He made me more money than I ever would have made!

    We all have our talents. Mine (might?) include blogging. Not so for many of my colleagues.

    Ack … better prepare for teaching soon! Over & out here in my neck ‘o the woods.

  9. I do hope I didn’t come across harshly. I hate when I do that. :-(