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Monday, January 25, 2016

Are DJs Musicians?

Earlier I wrote about the question whether or not singers are musicians. The question is as pressing as ever - again and again I find snippets of language in daily life in which speakers equate 'music' with 'music played on an instrument'. Please understand me right: this is not 'wrong' - it is simply 'culture'; it is the way we ('we') think and speak about music. I guess the fact that Mischa Spel (about whom I wrote in my previous blog) is announced to write for her newspaper about 'classical music and opera' is connected to the same question. And the fact that the particular blog entry called "Are Singers Musicians" is the entry that has attracted the most readers of all 150+ entries of this my blog may show that the question makes people curious (or maybe it shows that there are many singers around longing for a positive answer?).

I can tell you that there is a related question: are DJs musicians? Again, the question revolves about ideas whether or not they produce sounds in the way instrumentalists do - "with their own bare hands", one might say. We are so used thinking in terms of the production of sound vs. the reproduction of sounds that it seems unthinkable that somebody 'just' reproducing music produced by others is a musician. And of course, while typing the sentence, I realize that for example classical musicians do precisely that: in their production they reproduce.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Erik Scherder, Mischa Spel, and why the New Lobby for Music Education desperately needs some opposition

Interesting times for music education in the Netherlands. A New Lobby for Music Education seems to be forming. It consists of journalists, researchers, opinion leaders, performing musicians, culture hotshots. They (claim they) base themselves on research showing why music is important in education. And they equate 'music' with 'playing an instrument', and 'music education' with 'learning to play an instrument'.

A possible - and rather black - interpretation of this New Lobby could be the one in which the argument runs thus: the guild of professional performing musicians, traditionally mainly classical musicians but today also jazz and even pop, were mainly found in government-sponsored orchestras and ensembles, they performed on government-sponsored stages and taught music lessons in government-sponsored music schools. Now that the gusto in governmental circles to keep on sponsoring seems to diminish, professional performing musicians and the enormous fringe of organisational professionals around them look into other governemnt-sponsored areas where they might work, and have cast their eye on schools. Hence the attention for the benefits of 'music' (read: playing an instrument) for 'the brain', 'creativity', and 'social skills' (all very important in educational discourse these days). And hence the call for money for music education, and for specialists in the classroom; a call with the mixed origins of wanting the best for our kids and wanting to secure work for professional musicians.