Viva la Clásica

We are living in the generation where technology is constantly evolving. Every year, new gadgets are produced and old theories are  challenged. One of the many new experiments that people take interest in is how to increase one’s IQ through listening to music. As it turns out, the Mozart Effect is actually valid. A professor from the University of Wales stated: “A set of research results that asserts listening to classical music provides short-term enhancement of mental tasks, including memorization, known as ‘spatial-temporal reasoning.’”

Though some boarding schools, such as Groton, have classical musicians, most of them  do not listen to classical music at all. The majority  do not plan to play after graduation. With this as the case, is playing music from centuries ago beneficial to students? Why dowe play music that we do not have any interest in? I myself love to sing operas, but rarely do I  take interest in Bach or Beethoven.

During the school year, I often hear conversations amongst my peers about whether classical music is still relevant. After a survey of 20 classmates, 13 people believe that the genre is outdated  at Groton. One stated that “Classical music is only present in the music wing and nowhere else.” Though the majority of schools worldwide try to instill the spirit of classics in high school students, only few will understand the advantages of classical music in their lives.

We have been exposed to classical music from a very young age; our elementary school music classes have taught us much more than just hitting rubber mallets on xylophones. We have learned about the instrument families, how to play the recorder, and most importantly, the origin of our contemporary music. We remember our teachers reiterating thousands of times that without classical music, there would not be a Macklemore or Damien Rice. They have also told us about the gradual changes that have been made throughout history in music. So if we play and learn about this genre constantly, why do we believe that it is dead?

A major misunderstanding that many students have is that the development of classical music ended centuries ago. Think of it like this: music is like science. Science has never stopped advancing and will continue to prosper in the future. Tools and instruments that have been used thousands of years ago have now been modified for  the modern world. In the case of classical music, now anyone is able to enjoy it for free  on YouTube; it is available everywhere we go. Especially to unique composers like Thomas Schoenberger and lots of other musicians who use social media to expose their talents, classical music continues to lives on. Believe it or not, even the Star Wars theme music, composed by John Williams, is considered classical. The Classical Era might have ended during the 19th century, but the music itself is  never dead.

Groton’s sense of tradition values classical music, but the passion should not be kept within the music department. The music requirements, in keeping with the aim to educate students about  music, should exceed the norm and inspire students to continue playing outside of the Circle. One way students are motivated to pursue their musical educations to the fullest extent are the musical juries, where one practices extensively and receives the grade they deserve. However, notable grades should not be the only indication of the student’s musical capabilities in the future, which is the ultimate purpose. It would only reflect one’s determination and rigor, not the way they are able to use it in society.

Just because a student plays Tchaikovsky does not mean they understand the context and that they are knowledgeable about what they play.  He or she should be able to understand that classical music is a genre that the majority of society knows, and therefore should be educated about beforehand.  Students can utilize the knowledge even after they graduate high school and not learn their instruments for a letter grade. If this chain continues, classical music can spread to future generations as it has in the past.

The world that we live in today has changed dramatically, but classical music has stayed the same. The chances of the music that we listen to on the radio today being number one  for the next century are very slim, but the profound connections between our society and classical music are unbreakable. It lives in a conservative space, whereas music of today is contemporary with a beat.

Classical music seems lame, I understand. However, it is not the music itself that attracts the world, but the history and the atmosphere around it that makes it so fascinating. To conclude, this definition of “classical” summaries my opinion in one, quick sentence: “Judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind.” Viva la Clásica.

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