Musical Rantings and Ravings

Audio, Editorials, Reviews

Students Pick the Lowest Musical Fruit


I just walked by 4 students all listening to the same work for a class and each one was using a different Youtube performance.  Now occasionally the performances on Youtube are great, but in this case one was what I would call an adequate performance and the other three were very questionable or completely unknown.  While the performance might only minimally effect the assignment there are other considerations, I think.

Just think back to your early years.  Do you remember any example of the first recording of a work you really intently listened to became “the best”? Mine was a performance of Mahler’s fourth symphony when i was a sophomore in high school.  It was the perfect tempo, the perfect balance best dynamics and phrasing, etc etc….and still is! Three of the four of these students will probably have a very poor idea of their piece.

So I ask…Why would a music major choose just any old performance when they have a library filled with great performances?  Convenience..?  Is that how they will pursue their art?  Do whatever is easiest?  Why be a musician, if you don’t care?

So, students are here to learn, so it is not surprising that they would not even know how to choose the best performances.  But, why would instructors allow their students to use poor performances?  Is it laziness?  Are they afraid of selecting winners and losers?  Afraid of putting their own taste on the line…?  That’s your job!!!  You know, at my institution, the only group of students and faculty who seem to care about performance are the Jazz majors and faculty.  Of course, that makes sense for them and their repertoire.  But symphony orchestras and conductors don’t matter….?  The list of great singers is not that long…Why not specify some of the greatest to listen to for that repertoire or role?  I won’t even go into how many bad performances of wind ensemble and concert band literature is available.

Faculty… specify for your students some criteria by which to judge.  Either by performer or ensemble, conductor, or select versions from CD’s or online resources that you approve of and make a playlist for them.  YOUR THE EXPERT!

Students, if your faculty member won’t do this for you, take it upon yourself to listen to “nutritious” performances… not audio “junk food.”  Find reviews of a particular piece you want to listen to and listen to the best.  Just because its available doesn’t make it worth wasting your time on.

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