My passion is to help others in the community, young, old, and everyone in between, find relevance and joy in learning, performing or listening to classical music.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Another no-budget idea for making classical music accessible to more people

Back in January I made a proposal to musicians.  In my post, which you can read here, I suggested that if we musicians found more opportunities to sneak music into everyday situations, we might be surprised at how many people and who might actually listen.  And yesterday, I wrote about a very private performance that I had the honor of participating in that was packed with just as much significance, if not more, than my average public performance which leads me to today's post and another proposition to my musical colleagues.

Yesterday I performed on an old upright in the home of someone in our small community. The performer was a high-school age cellist, the performance was a requirement, in order for her to move up to the next Suzuki book.  The audience was made up of four individuals - the cellist's parents and her neighbors, an elderly couple. It was a very touching performance for many reasons that you can read about in the original post but what I want to write about is an idea that popped into my head while we were performing. (No matter how hard I try, there are inevitably moments where odd thoughts pop into my head. I recently had a twitter friend tell me that a neurologist friend of his calls those "popup thoughts". I never would have guessed they would actually have such a simple name for them.) Here it is:

Across the country, I bet there are thousands of pianos sitting un-played and ignored in people's homes. I also have a sneaking suspicion that most of the people that own those pianos like to listen to music, whether it be classical, jazz, blues...whatever genre you can think of. What would happen if pianists could hook up with these orphan pianos in their community and practice on them at regular intervals? It would be a win-win situation for everyone involved. The pianists would have access to a piano of varying quality (a good exercise in itself), specific time set aside for practicing, motivation to follow-through, a chance to be playing almost in public, and the opportunity to develop a relationship with someone in the community who might end up being an audience member and cheerleader. For the hosts, they would get to hear music in their own home, eavesdrop on the crazy minds of a musician, put their piano to good use, listen to a piece being learned from beginning to end, and possibly develop a relationship with a musician. If the host is a musician, perhaps such a relationship could lead to some music-making together.

And I don't think this would have to be limited to just pianists. One of my twitter friends mentioned that she's thinking about doing this herself. This is like my idea of keeping the windows open when you're practicing, only more personal and with the potential to develop more relationships - something I sense much of society craving. I imagine there are a lot of folks that might caution me not to take this idea any further and please don't worry - I'll be smart about it all. I'd much rather dream big in order to take one step forward than not dream at all and end up standing in the same place indefinitely.  

Thoughts, anyone? I would appreciate any translation of these ideas into practical, realistic ones!


  1. I love this idea of flinging open the windows when we practice...I often feel a little embarrassed when I warm up as my home is directly opposite a large park by a lake where there are always people walking about. When I sing I see them lift their heads and look in my direction, and I wonder if it's the first time they have ever been that close to a classical singer! Perhaps I should open my window, invite the looks instead of shy away from them...anything to demystify the myth of inacessible divadom!

  2. Absolutely, Natalie. You have such a beautiful voice and to hear that coming across the park, that would be magical! I believe that we, as musicians, have a very special opportunity to be able to pull people away from their life even if only for a brief moment in time. Sometimes that won't lead to anything other than a brief diversion, but other times, it might lead to something more. What an incredible gift :-)

    Thank you for sharing, Natalie. How I wish I could be one of those people walking in that park while you were practicing!