In musical circles, we occasionally discuss music and accessibility. Under this umbrella topic, we have at least three different definitions that can apply:
1. Accessibility to hearing music. This includes many things, like music on the radio, on the internet, as well as in public performances in traditional and non-traditional venues.
2. Accessibility to understanding music. Some pieces of music are considered easier to comprehend on its first hearing.
3. Accessibility to making music. This includes a wide range, from learning how to sing or play an instrument for oneself to performing professionally in concert venues, playing alone, or collaborating with others.
I had so many thoughts about this topic because of a recent blog post written by composer Aaron Gervais. His post is worthwhile reading, addressing the second kind of accessibility, accessibility to understanding music. There are many points with which I agree in his essay. However, many spinoff discussions seem to meander into the territories of the other kinds of accessibility, such as simplification of programming or performance.
In Milwaukee, we have been performing in traditional and non-traditional venues, from coffee shops to underpass parks in order to get listeners outside of our regular supporters. We are working on more non-traditional venues to continue that work. Both formal and informal education happens at performances as well as outreach events. Additionally, we work to continue educating ourselves by pushing ourselves in our practice, studying with others, and listening to critical feedback offered in our circle. By actively pursuing more information, better performing, and aiming at a wider audience, we hope to make our music as accessible as possible without watering it down.