Opinion: classical music is hard, and that’s a good thing

Posted on: January 7, 2015

“Recently a study was published revealing that an increasing number of children were choosing electric guitars and keyboards over violins and recorders,” writes pianist Stephen Hough in Tuesday’s (1/6) Telegraph (London). “The study suggested that wanting to emulate the quick-fix fame of contestants on shows like The X Factor was behind the trend.… None of what I say here is a put-down of electronic instruments, it’s just that those who excel in playing them are generally those who write for them…. To master an acoustic instrument requires good teaching and a lot of practice, and it is possible to make pleasant sounds quicker on an electric keyboard than on a real piano. But it seems to me that most young people relish a challenge (this is the hardest mountain to climb, book to read, puzzle to solve, club to join etc.), so why do we think that pretending classical music is ‘easy’ will gain us more youthful listeners or performers? … Classical music is dangerous, disturbing, radical, countercultural.… If we can only tap into the exhilarating fire kindled by listening to and playing great music then … we’ll hardly be able to cope with the sheer number of kids practicing their hearts out.”

Posted January 7, 2015