Monday, December 10, 2007

What's your REAL job?

Thanks again to the bloggers at Sticks and Drones for turning me to a recent article in the New York Times which felt it was shedding new light on the fact that "Classical" musicians actually listen to "OTHER" types of music. Both the NYT article and Bill Eddins' reply in his blog are worth the read if you have the time. The article raises the awareness that "classical" musicians don't spend 100% if their time listening, talking about, or going to "classical" music concerts. Eddins' reply is quite funny - taking the article as if it were some sort of revelation to the non-"classical" music world that we actually have a life outside of music (Ok, for some of us, especially this time of year, it might seem that this argument does have a certain amount of validity to it).

I'm not going to comment on either of these articles, but I have a semi-related story which might brighten up your Monday.

About two years ago, after a church service, my assistant organist was wailing away at his postlude with much vigor. We are very lucky at my parish church that music holds such a high place in the hearts of our parishioners and clergy. If there is ever any doubt about this, I just have to look at the years budget and see what percentage goes into our music program. Also, every member of the congregation SITS until the end of the postlude until the very last note, and responds with applause. (I'll save the "should we applaud in church" argument for another day - in short though, if you say "no" ... don't be so snooty, yes we should). So, back to the story - Organist giving his best Keith Emerson impression on a French toccata - people sitting in the pews enjoying every minute of it. The conversation overheard on at the back of the church between our Rector and a parishioner (conversation is not verbatim, it was two years ago after all)

Parishoner: "Wow, he's really talented, he must practice a lot"
Rector: "Yes, and I'm so lucky to be able to listen to him practice everyday from my office"
Parishoner: "I suppose he must take some time to practice music he likes, not just this stuff eh?"

[Dramatic Pause]

Rector: "I think ... he DOES like this music" [under the Rector's breath] "you old coot"

This was the first time I had ever thought that someone might actually think that we don't enjoy what we do as musicians, and it's "just a job". More often than not, I get the opposite reaction. Something like:

Random Person: "What do you do?
Me: "I'm a musician"
Random Person: "Wow, that must be fun - but what's your real job"


I am Chorus said...

It's like the irritation I feel anytime an organist is asked to do an organ demo, and gets, "CAN YOU PLAY THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA??!!" as the prime request, as though it was the only piece of organ music of any value. It, and the "Halloweeny one."

Crimson Rambler said...

Have you read Jane Langton's organist-mystery, "Divine Inspiration"? There's a great scene in it where an organ student, believing himself to be alone in the church, plays all the schlockiest stuff he can think of as melodramatically as possible...

Philip L. Copeland said...

Hi, PS. Thanks for visiting the UAB Choir blog. I'd love to hear more about your experience at the Cork competition. We're headed there in a few months and I'm thinking about it all the time!

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