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Saturday, December 12, 2015

How many people sing shanties, really?

The Monitor Amateur Arts 2015 has appeared. Always interesting food for thought.

This year in particular, at least for me: one of the questions asked in the questionnaire on which the monitor is based is what kind of music people make - and this year 'shanty' was included in the list. My colleague dr. Teunis IJdens from LKCA kindly provided me with the precise question asked in the questionnaire. It is: "Which kind of music do you play or sing?", with the possibility to indicate one or more genres from a list of 10, including "shanty", and the possibility to add other genres.

The Monitor shows that shanty is actually quite popular. These are the figures:

6-11: 0% of people active in music are active in shanty
12-19: 0% etc.
20-34: 3%
35-49: 1%
50-64: 4%
65+: 7%
Overall: 2%

On a first glance I recognized my observation that shanty singing is done mainly by elderly people. But a second glance awoke lots of questions. Is really about one out of 15 active 65+ musicians a shanty musician? What about those 3% active shanty singers between 20 and 34? I never meet them (I am, at 51, mostly considered very much to be a youthful shanty singer).

And according to the Monitor, the percentages may be extrapolated from the survey sample to the total population - the claim is that 3 million Dutch people are active musicians. 2% of them would mean that we have 60.000 shanty singers in the Netherlands. And then I got really suspicious.