Are orchestras putting too much emphasis on education?

Posted on: June 28, 2011

Monday (6/27) on her Washington Post blog Classical Beat, Anne Midgette reports on a panel discussion related to the San Francisco Symphony’s latest “Keeping Score” installment about Mahler, which quickly turned into “a discussion on outreach. Orchestras’ rationale for using new technology, after all, is to reach new audiences, a need dictated by a steady erosion in the number of subscribers and ticket-buyers. … The conventional wisdom these days is that music education in the schools has declined, and therefore we’ve lost audiences, and therefore we have to put lots of energy into school music programs so that we can build up our audiences again. … But this idea, as outlined, is a logical fallacy. For one thing, the audience that’s declining right now is an audience that DID have the benefit of music education: my peers, the people in their 40s and 50s who are not turning to orchestral concerts in the same way that their age group did 30 and 40 years ago, came through the schools before the massive slashing of arts education programs that has been going on for the last couple of decades. They got the music education: they’re still not subscribing. And it’s equally fallacious to see playing instruments as a key to developing audiences. If that were true, audiences would be in fine shape, since instrumentalists are not in short supply today.”

Posted June 28, 2011