I recently discussed this issue with a friend and colleague. Now I see we aren’t the only ones pondering:

Sometimes it’s a bit puzzling to reconcile all that suffering with what I do, but I’ve learned over the years (and with many thanks to all your comments and observations) that music, is in fact, vitally, profoundly necessary and relevant to the human spirit. So I’ll keep singing whilst I can…it’s the small contributions that add up over time, right?
-Joyce DiDonato (read here)

As a music student, I often felt selfish for pursuing a career in music. I watched as my closest childhood friends grew into adults and took their places in the world community, and marveled at their accomplishments. One dedicated her 20s to an organization called Operation Smile, traveling throughout the developing world helping children in need connect with doctors to get the treatment they were so desperately in need of. Another has chosen a career in promoting cancer awareness and educating communities how to better take care of their health. One is now a Psychiatric resident in New York at Cornell, caring for many mentally ill patients and researching the mysteries of how the brain works. One is a college professor who has dedicated much of his research to education policy. One used her law degree to provide legal aid to youth in need in New England. One is finishing her Ph.D. in anthropology, researching many of the mysteries of how we evolved to be as we are today. Educators, researchers, doctors, volunteer coordinators – it was easy to see how these people who have inspired me my whole life are giving back to society, each trying in their own way to make the world a better place.

As a young musician, it’s really easy to forget why what we do is important.
-Nicholas Phan (read here)

I think I blogged about the discussion I had with my friend a short time ago. I’m too darn lazy to find it though. But one thing I said (and I sure hope this doesn’t sound arrogant) is that “the wealthy deserve to be blessed too.” He had been saying that, for the most part, only the somewhat well off could attend our concerts, due to the prices.

So dare I say that the music we make can bless people? I hope people don’t think I’m being snobby by saying that. But I know that I have been richly blessed by attending concerts these past few years since Dan and I have finally found the time (because it’s not only the money that’s an issue for many) and income that allows us to purchase tickets.

I also think that what we do — our gift — is just that. It’s a gift. To be shared. And shoot, if we are given a gift should we feel guilty about using it? Perhaps we even have a responsibility to use and share it.

Of course one of my other gifts is laziness. So now I’m going to take a little nap.

(Small PS: Of course there are many other benefits to music, and it doesn’t just benefit the wealthy! I don’t mean to be saying that. But I’m tired and I don’t want to continue writing at the moment.)


  1. patti with an i

    I get so angry when I hear people say that classical music is only for the wealthy. Top ticket price for Symphony Silicon Valley is $75; for a Sharks game, $182; to the Eagles concert at HP Pavilion on April 30, $135. Where on earth does anybody get off saying that OUR ticket prices make us “elitist”?

  2. I don’t really get angry … I just shrug. I have friends who say they can’t afford to go to a symphony concert but they’ll pay for cable and internet access and they buy their fancy coffees. It’s more about what matters to each individual. And of course we aren’t going to appeal to everyone.

    And I will never attend a pop country western concert. So whatever! 🙂

  3. (OH … and I’m really sorry if I gave you the impression that one has to be wealthy to attend. BUT, truth be told, I suspect if you checked income levels of most of our patrons we’d see very few low income folks there. Not that there won’t be any, mind you.)