Something’s Scwewy Awound Heah!

You run into odd things in the performing arts, especially from non-performers. People thinking—

-Musicians are stupid. Growing up around scientists of an older generation, I heard this repeatedly, though many of them loved music and themselves played violin or piano. Never heard it from my chemist father.

-Musicians are geniuses. (Some are, in one sense or another—to Schumann, Bach was “the unfathomable one,” while Wagner rated Liszt’s performance of the Hammerklavier Sonata on a creative par with Beethoven’s composing the piece—but the word is used too freely. It’s been applied to me once or twice, but it doesn’t apply to me, and only made me realize how much I fell short.)

-Making music is a pleasure, therefore musicians don’t merit remuneration (like baseball players before Curt Flood). I don’t get the “therefore.” Music is a pleasure, but the rent must be paid.

-All performers are famous and rich. This is hilarious.

-Performance and teaching can be judged by audiences’ facial expressions, specifically how happy they look. Colleagues tell me this was a widespread fad in American academia a while back; and I know of a church musician criticized by a consultant who said the congregation didn’t look happy enough during the music. Imagine a performance of “Missa Solemnis” rated on pre-printed sheets with a range of smiley-face icons. Some audience members look serious, even sombre; some have tears in their eyes. It must be a bad performance: they’re not smiling. O Mark Twain, where art thou? Imagine the fun he would have had with this!

Copyright © James Boyk 2013. All rights reserved.
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