Music critic, author, educator, and all-around transcendental thinker Greg Sandow is always a good read, and his blog is usually chockablock with tantalizing ideas, and you know how I love ideas. The subtitle of his blog is “Greg Sandow on the future of classical music,” and he often muses about solutions to contemporary classical music problems. One recent entry was a reprint of another blog (by Mike Oneil Lam) that speculated on an idea to make orchestral music more comprehensible to the uninitiated. Mike’s idea is to take the idea of the sports event scoreboard and bring it to symphony orchestra concerts. He imagines that the hall could use a projector screen or TV screen to display information about what’s going on in the piece as it unfolds. The information could be similar to what you would get at a sporting event – names of composer, conductor, current movement and title, game timer (how much time is left), information on what to listen for (e.g. solos, main themes) at any one time, etc. (Batting average of the principal horn? Only .999 this season – might be traded? Sorry, got carried away there…).
Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today. Normally graduation speakers speak at graduation, but we here at Horninsights have a different tradition: we give you your graduation speech on your first day of graduate school. We find that it reduces the occurrence of the moment that happens some time after graduation where you smack your forehead and say, “Man, I wish I would have known that before I graduated.” So, without further ado, here are the Horninsights Insights into what to keep in mind as you wend your way through these last years of formal musical training. Takes notes; there will be a quiz after class. Note: we do apologize for some of the points, which might seem blindingly obvious, but which, we have learned, are not always obvious to everyone.
1. Get really good on your instrument.