I was just watching and listening to a video of a very talented group of young(ish) musicians playing in a conductor-less group. I ended up having to just listen and not watch.


Nearly every musician was beating time with his or her instrument. It was so very distracting. I understand the need to keep time. I understand wanting to count carefully when there is no conductor to help with the pulse, but to pretty much pound out every beat is, for me, a distraction and also starts to make one lose the horizontal line of the work.

When I only listened it wasn’t quite so bad, but I could still sense they were beating that pulse out much of the time.

Maybe it’s just my problem. I wonder.

Side note: I love watching younger (and when I write “younger” now I am mostly referring to forty or below) musicians at work. It’s also difficult for me, though: it makes me feel quite old, and perhaps a bit obsolete. That’s especially the case when a group implies they have the answer to what is frequently called the death of classical music. (Key phrases: “break down the barriers”, “collaborative”, “for the people” and one they don’t frequently use but I will “will pay for tips”.) Unfortunately most of these groups that tout the answer aren’t making a living wage off of their frequently wonderful and well-played music making. So perhaps they have the answer to the death of classical music but they might, as well, be bringing on the death of classical music as a profession.

I wonder.

I don’t mean to be snarky here. I just worry that if you give something away for free or nearly free you are telling the world — or at least the current audience — that the value of your work is worth next to nothing or even nothing at all, aside from applause.