"Only Musicians in Orchestras are real Musicians"

This past Christmas holiday, I’ve been taking my mother around to see family and friends. Many of these drives can be quite long and so I’ve been listening to the local classical FM station. My mom grew up on classical music, it was mandatory listening when she was in Germany. I fell out of listening to classical, which I did do a lot more of in my mid to early teens, but then I also listened to a lot of big band, rock and pop at the time. It has been since I’ve been recording a pianist and cellist. Also with all the other musical endeavors, I grown to appreciate a much broader spectrum of music.

My mom is 80 and isn’t a fan of rock music or anything that has been recorded since 1960 and onward. She said to me, “Wouldn’t you agree that only musicians who play this type of music [classical] are real musicians?”. My answer was “No.”. I know how hard it is to play and read any type of music. I know that hours that anyone who plays any instrument, including voice, puts into getting as close to perfection as possible. Even someone who is only playing for their own sheer enjoyment has spent countless hours working on a single song to be able to play it back.

I understand why she feels this way, I do feel this way about a lot of pop music that has come out since 2000. It has a plastic feel to it, it has been manipulated to be “perfect”. Along with videos it has given a rise to less-than-talented individuals who look good but really can sing / play any better that a person trying their had at an instrument for the first time. There are too many Ashley Simpsons in the industry and we need them to be shown for what they really are.

Now I’ve gone off topic a little bit, but I am paraphrasing my mother’s words. She feels that if a musician can’t read music then they aren’t a musician. She is showing bias because I know many musicians who don’t play for orchestras or play orchestral type music how can sight read better than some people who can read a book.

I know that a lot of the music from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s was recorded by a handful of talented musicians who’s knowledge of music would surpass many of the great composers of yesteryear. Why is this? Because they had their work to reference.

Music is one thing that brings like minded people together and, if you are passionate enough, start arguments that can never be resolved. Like I said, I don’t like the “plastic” sound of music that is being made today. That is why I think I’m enjoying recording people who have talent, but don’t expect me to adjust their mistakes. It goes to show that we all have our opinions on music, but it is nice when we can discuss them as my mother and I did on our many drives this season.

Happy Holidays everyone!

— Mike