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Changing the Culture: The Death of Classical Music Elitism?

Changing the Culture: The Death of Classical Music Elitism?

I am a member of the International Alliance for Women in Music, a music advocacy group open to all individuals that promotes contemporary music and scholarly research. We often have heartfelt discussions regarding gender, age, race/culture, and more in classical music, from celebrating when young students win a composition competition to frustrations with systems set in place that perpetuate elitism that plagues and sometimes kills classical music organizations today, as is evidenced by the high number of large classical music organizations folding. 

We recently chatted about the high cost of arts competitions, the reasoning behind high entry fees, the validity of some festivals, the criminality of others, and how this affects gender, age, and the realities of women in music. I won't go into the details of the conversation, though if any of you are interested in these topics (male or female), I encourage you to join with the IAWM. It has by far been the most supportive group that I have been a member of to date, offering many opportunities for performance and good discussion on contemporary music. This is a note that I wrote this morning regarding our recent discussions. I thought I could share.

Hello IAWM,

The recent discussion about competition costs, ageism, and other gender issues prompted me to think about something that my husband (a coach) is always talking about for his athletes: Changing the Culture.

What does this mean? I wish it meant sweeping overnight change that suddenly evened the playing ground for millions, but it really doesn't. It means making small incremental changes that in the long run will create the change. 


"Changing the Culture" means making the small decisions and doing the small actions that over time will change culture. 

I'm not an expert on change, but I know that each of you, like me, have chosen paths that are by no means easy and run counterculture even if we do not realize it. For me, changing the culture means sharing classical music with a younger and more diverse audience, opening up music events to all socioeconomic classes (not just those that can afford the ticket prices), creating a positive musical environment and opportunities for women with family obligations (either kids, aging parents, illness or other), breaking stereotypes again and again, teaching my daughter that she can strive for her dreams but to try to "have it all" is the road to perfectionism and disappointment. 

We are human, there is only so much we can do, and we need to prioritize each one individually and respect that in each other. These are small steps that have small actions and small ripples, but a hundred thousand ripples can create a tsunami.


English: Classical music celebration Sept Concert
Anyway, those are my thoughts this morning. If each one of us consciously chose to support those who enact change and shun those who do not, there will be change, if not for us, then for the next generation. And i think that the many women in IAWM that have paved the way for us before and still do today can attest to the power of many taking one step forward.


(Now to grade papers!)

Sabrina

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