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The Elitist, Exclusionary Attitude - Classical Music's Biggest Enemy
25 Jun 2020

When I first started inviting other musicians to join Bach in the Subways – to try and spread the Bachlove as much as possible! – the question of who we should "allow" to join us came up. There were serious arguments against "letting" non-professional musicians join. Some felt it would hurt the artform by making a bad impression on audiences.

I always found this argument absurd. Does watching little league baseball ruin the experience of pro baseball for fans? What if you went around the U.S. trying to stop kids from playing little league in an effort to save and preserve the art of baseball? How sane would that be?

More importantly, would this actually help baseball? Of course not! It would make young baseball enthusiasts feel alienated from the sport – it would make them feel like they weren't good enough, like they weren't invited to the party. And ultimately, after a few generations, society would end up with a lot fewer good baseball players, and very little enthusiasm for the sport, than you originally had when everyone was welcome.

The expression "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly" is undoubtedly true. There's not a single amazing classical musician alive who didn't go through being and performing like a student. If you stifle that, you choke off the artform at its very source.

The elitist, exclusionary attitude that keeps popping its head up in the classical music world (which by the way has nothing to do with the music itself!) is our biggest enemy. People playing and performing at less than top pro levels is NOT the problem. We need to invite people IN to the world of classical music – not keep them out!


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