Though we tend to do much of our work independently, we can accomplish great things when we work together. This holds true in music as well as in other disciplines. In music, we have examples of this in orchestras, choirs, and other ensembles. In more recent years, musicians have been reaching out to audiences in different ways other than the traditional concert program format. Flash mobs have been increasing in popularity, for example. Take a look at this one that is, essentially, good PR for a Spanish bank. It is effective at engaging the crowd. Of course, much had gone into the planning of that particular flash mob, but on the flip side, check out this impromptu performance given by musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra on an airplane that was delayed.
It is important that we encourage younger folks to become engaged in music, whether in attendance of the example events given above, or to play or sing on their own. Learning how to play an instrument establishes focus and critical thinking skills, as well as appreciation for music, and it creates more fine musicians. Such fantastic possibilities abound when one combines the work of a leader or facilitator with the willingness to learn and work of students. See, for example the excellent job that the Sinnam Elementary School Recorder Ensemble has done with the Variations on “La Folia” for Recorder Orchestra. Can you imagine what those musicians will be like in ten years? They already captured the energy of that piece so well now!
An area that I believe needs more work is that with older musicians. There are programs out there that involve making music for senior citizens, with the occasional attempt to involve them directly IN the music-making. See, for instance, a program in the UK called “The Smiling Sessions” in which the bands play for the people and get some of the musically-inclined residents involved in playing along with them.
In the upcoming months, I’m moving Harmony Hall to Milwaukee, with the hope to get people of all generations to get a chance to play music with others. In addition to that, I’m collaborating with Brett Lipshutz on a baroque music performance, education, and professional development collective. Playing together, engaging others in the music we love in different kinds of spaces to change up the typical concertizing format are some of our aims. Working with other disciplines to create new opportunities is also a possibility. I look forward to seeing what we can develop together in my home state.