We are pleased to publish your letters, but cannot include readers' email addresses since this can lead to problems of privacy. All letters should be addressed to me, John Woodford, at [email protected]. In association with Oxford University Press, we are pleased to give away ‘The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music’ (4th Edition, Michael Kennedy) for each month’s most interesting letter. This valuable resource should be on any musician’s reference shelves.
Last month's Editorial, concerning the Channel 4 documentary Faking It, brought in some interesting correspondence. In the programme, a cello student from one of Britain's conservatories was asked to train for a week as a disc jockey to see how she coped with a totally different aspect of the music business. The editor was concerned that the programme sent out a rather biased and stereotyped message concerning classically-trained musicians.
From: Mike Summers, Middlesex
Well said. I didn't see the programme, but it sounds as though there was a very unfair portrayal of classically-trained musicians. There's no self-interest here because (though I love classical music) my classical training stopped a little short, soon after I moved into jazz; but I do rub shoulders with enough classical musicians to know of their typically wonderful dedication. So often people who are too lazy to develop their ears unwittingly allow music promoters to choose their music for them. Their complacency is encouraged further by media remarks about all music being equal and insinuations that classical music lovers are silly, fusty snobs, who just need to let their hair down.
It would be nice though, if fewer classical music players and promoters treated the word Music as essentially theirs; as though there is only classical music and frivolous music, or as if the very word Music is only on loan to other genres. Surely, the most original genre is folk music (though not necessarily as we know it) and I don't hear folk musicians making proprietorial assumptions about the word Music. I'm very pleased to see that now there are many classically-trained musicians playing in several genres, including classical music. How encouraging! Perhaps, as the genres become less divided (and less fussed-over?), true music lovers will simply focus on quality. But what can we do about the growing number of people who are too lazy to listen? Perhaps the best thing is just to hit back and shame those media presenters who make these stupid damaging remarks.
From John Hodgson, West Riding of Yorkshire
You forget that levels of perfection don't make interesting TV. Everyone knows that you can be a rock or jazz musician with no skill whatsoever. That is the way everyone markets them, the ABRSM included. Whatever your field of endeavour there is always pain of some sort. Even at school, I had to learn times tables; my child has been duped into thinking them unnecessary.
From Maria Beckett, Greater Manchester
There is rarely any excuse for misrepresentation of facts, but this is something I am afraid we have to put up with in ever increasing amounts: advertisements, politics, school league tables, nothing seems safe. And now it seems that Music is being subjected to similar distortions of the truth. I am surprised that such a smart young lady should want to have herself portrayed in this light, but I suppose that most young people are light moths drawn to the eternal financial flame. Secondly, I cannot believe that anyone who showed herself to be as with-it as that at the end of only one month was ever anything else. In this respect, I'm certain that the whole programme an absolute sham. What a load of codswallop, MT.co.uk, and I'm surprised at you rising to the bait!
But it makes good reading – and to those of us who, in the days before Frankie Goes to Hollywood, managed to get some time away from the practice rooms to go to a disco, it was a bit of an insult. I'm sure that the managers of MusicTeachers.co.uk boogied along with the best of them in their days, but then again…I've seen CW's silver jacket; I'm sure it wasn't bought only for gigs. JW
This line of correspondence is now closed.
From Mark Kennett, Essex
Come on now, MusicTeachers, I can't stand the wait…you've had a go at Charlotte Church and are constantly berating musical standards, yet Russell Watson seems not to have got a look in anywhere along the way. I watched the Classic Brits Awards last week and there he was, getting awards alongside no lesser figures than Sir Simon Rattle. Surely, you don't think the two are equal, or is it some Manchester thing?
No it certainly is not. The fact is, we just don't think about Russell Watson. If you really want a little stream of invective against him, read any reviews of his CDs or concerts – that is when the promoters are stupid enough to allow critics to be present. JW
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