Today I would like to share with you a valuable lesson I learned a couple years ago from a professor of mine. I was in my Music Theory class and we started to get a bit off topic and began to discuss the state of music today. Suddenly from all directions pop singers were being trashed, auto tune and rap songs were being recited ironically, and we shook our heads at the people who made these “artists” famous. Our professor Joe Clark then brought it back into perspective. I’m paraphrasing here, but essentially he told us ” I use to feel the same way, but I think this is true, and the faster you understand and accept this the better. Not everyone likes music.”
At first I thought Prof. Clark was way off, I mean maybe people don’t want to make a career out of it, but who doesn’t like music? Then he continued to explain, he told us most people listen to music passively, in cars, in the mall, for “fun” if you will. They don’t think of it as an art form, they just play whatever is on the radio. And, we as musicians and educators have to be aware of this. Not everyone likes or even cares about music and we are looking at it from a perspective that music is one of the highest if not the highest art form. This can lead to a disconnect between the potential customer and the artist, and that’s a problem.
Prof Clark then continued to teach Theory, but my mind stayed on what he had just said. It’s so true. People don’t like music, they disregard it as a passive form of entertainment, but that’s okay. It’s my job to keep making good music and continue to provide a quality product. I am not a McDonalds. Sure billions served, but that doesn’t mean the food is of good quality and most people who eat there are not food critics or even care about the quality of what they are consuming. I’d rather make a quality product and be glad I pushed my musical ability and hopefully touched a few people along the way.
As musicians we also have to be careful to not put our music on a pedestal. As I have said before I don’t want Jazz music to feel elitists or unwelcoming to people who perhaps are not Jazz fans. Being arrogant and putting people down for “not getting it” will not help our cause. We need to be welcoming and embrace the current and future generation into listening to Jazz, not making them feel bad for being less knowledgable then us. This is where my current and future work comes into play. By writing, performing, and educating others about what Jazz music has to offer perhaps we can gain a wider audience and have more people inspired to play and learn about Jazz. That’s my goal and the overall mission of this blog.
That’s what I love about education, I didn’t expect during that Music Theory class, to come away with a life changing event, but that’s exactly what happen when Joe Clark uttered those words “Not everyone likes music”. Before that day I definitely judged others on their musical taste. And, honestly, I still do, but I try to remind myself of Joe Clark’s phrase and I also remind myself they probably haven’t been exposed to Jazz music. Thanks to that day I have become more aware of my struggles as a Jazz musician and I’ve become more welcoming and more aware that “Not everyone likes music”. And that its okay, I am here to do my part, to make a positive contribution to Jazz, and to teach and educate as many as I possibly can. “Not everyone likes music” but for those of you who do, or are willing to give music a chance I am here and willing to help.