From a discussion recently in Rockford Aces rehearsal:
Write “Entertainment” and “Art” on opposite sides of the page, and a line connecting them. Now place the following things on that line:
- The arrangements of Alice Parker
- The arrangements of Deke Sharon
- The Hi-Lo’s
- Seussical The Musical
- Into The Woods
- Renee Fleming
- Audra MacDonald
Are they placed pretty widely on that spectrum? Good.
Through this part of the discussion, one student kept agitating and squirming – he was trying to articulate a frustration but couldn’t quite come up with the words.
And I asked, “Is this spectrum valid? Is this an appropriate way to categorize music?”
Thinking as performers, we need to remember to bring as much commitment to engaging our audience in Brahms as we do in Billy Joel. And we need to remember (often more difficult) that Deke Sharon’s arrangements require just as much attention to artistry as Alice Parker’s, if you want to sing them well.
As consumers of music, we tend to put the music we love at the art side of the spectrum, and the music we don’t appreciate is either bad or “just entertainment.” I think we can find better ways to evaluate music than that.
As I always tell my students in group listening, “I like it,” or “I don’t like it,” isn’t enough – both need to be followed by “because…”
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