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I'm starting to become worried about the median age of concert goers. With my little endeavors here at the college and various gigs around the Boston area, it has become clear to me that the younger folks 20-30's are not there in great numbers (unless at the college where they must be there for course requirements).

 

Took a jaunt out to Tanglewood to hear a friend's recital and all I saw was a sea of "bluehairs" (forgive me dear Aunt Mable). The young seminar and fellowships students were there, but that was it. Same thing happened last weekend at the Rockport Chamber Music Festival...I was the youngest person in the audience (51 ain't young).

 

Has popular culture won? Here in the states I am ready to admit defeat. We are now MTV Nation :blink: . Perhaps there is hope elsewhere, but ladies and gentlemen....we are getting older.

 

Someone give me some hope. :(

Edited by Mark Evans
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In the Toronto area most folk-concert goers are of 'that age' but there is a growing interest in folk music and a number of committed youngsters. it is nothing compared to the young folk who seem to be getting involved in the folk music scene in the UK (Lisa Carthy, Spiers and Boden, Kerr and Fagan etc etc). Also, last time at Sidmouth there was definitely a large young contingent.

 

In contrast, I was at Old Songs near Albany NY last weekend and, as you say, the youngsters were greatly outnumbered.

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I'm starting to become worried about the median age of concert goers.

...

Has popular culture won?

Popular culture is, by definition, that which is popular. It can't "lose", since it's defined by the fact that it's winning. B)

 

I'm guessing that you're talking about classical music, opera, and possibly "folk". Maybe even "classic rock". But maybe -- instead, or also? -- you're talking about live attendance at live concerts vs. MTV and mp3 implants?

 

Here in the states I am ready to admit defeat.  We are now MTV Nation :blink:.

My suspicion is that MTV vs. mp3 vs. live concerts is semi-independent of "classical" vs. folk vs. rap, heavy metal, or whatever it is that's "musically" popular with the younger generations. (Yes, plural, once you reach our ages.) The battle, as you characterize it, may have been lost long ago if your audiences are lacking not only teenagers, but 30- and 40-somethings.

 

But I suspect there are still lots of "younger" people attending live concerts in person, just not concerts of the same performers/performances that you prefer. You know Britney Spears sells out, but aren't there less-super stars who live off of tours (and smaller-label recordings)? Somebody must go to see them, if it ain't us.

 

Perhaps there is hope elsewhere, but ladies and gentlemen....we are getting older.

Someone give me some hope. :(

I'll try.

 

While some changes seem relatively permanent -- telephones, radio/TV, private cars, even railroads (so far) -- many interests seem to go in cycles. E.g., the popularity of concertinas has been on an upswing for a few decades now, and the end is not yet in sight, but there was a time when interest was so low that I understand Ali A paid £5 for his unbeatable main squeeze. It may be a few years or a few decades, but I suspect the historical music that you love will experience a resurgence among the young. With advances in medical research, we might even survive long enough to see it happen more than once.

 

The amazing thing to me is that interest in various forms of music (and other things, such as philosophies, but let's stick to music) has managed to survive and revive over more than 10 generations. Bach, Verdi, and Mozart may be the ones feeding your fears, since they seem to have had such a long continuous run, and you see that as fading. But other composers and works have gone in and out of favor more than once. Consider the entire genre revived not long ago as "medieval", much of which has actually survived quite nicely -- if not spectacularly -- in "folk" forms.

 

And maybe it's "concerts" in your neck of the woods, but I don't think it's the totality of "culture". Last time I was at a Greenfield, MA contra dance, there were still a number of "younger" folks (college-age, and even a "kid" or two). If you've never been to a Wild Asparagus dance, you really should go, even if it's just to hear the band and to see if George has time to talk concertinas with you.

 

Hope is alive. (Faith and Charity are struggling, to be sure, but I believe they, too, will soon be active, again.) :)

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I am not particularly worried. In general young people hate what their parents love and the converse. Thus Minivans replaced Stationwagons which in turn were replaced by SUVs and now the SUVs are slowly being replaced by Hybrids which are essentially... stationwagons :).

 

The same thing with music. Few kids like what their parents liked (There are exceptions, particularly where a family has a strong tradition of actually playing music as opposed to simply listening) and even fewer parents like what their kids like.

 

For encouragement, I remember reading a few years ago that a new group of people were falling in love with Opera... Punk Rockers. They really liked the way that Opera put the emotions and the music right in your face...

 

In other words give it 10 or 15 years and the music that this generation of teenagers disdain might be the hippest thing going.

 

--

Bill

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I'll add my two bits to this discussion. I have 2 teenage boys (actually young men, now, one off to college and the other in the military) and a soon to-be teenage girl. When I told them I wanted to learn to play the concertina, they thought it was the weirdest inclination anyone could have. Once I began playing they've come around and said "its not as bad as they had thought it was going to be." I'm not sure what image (or sound) they had had in their minds. A few of their friends have been around and thought the concertina was "really cool". So maybe I'm making progress in influencing the minds of the young in this regard.

 

That being said, my sons and many of their friends enjoy "alternative" rock played mainly by little known punk bands, whom they follow loyally. This is not part of pop culture and is a little counter-cultural with respect to others in their generation. I don't think folk or traditional music will ever be part of a world wide "popular culture" phenomenon, but will always appeal to those who are mildly counter-cultural; i.e. want to preserve and promote that which is not currently "popular". So our natural audience in the younger generations may be those who are already inclined this way, like my sons and their friends. If so, there may be some in the younger generations that will eventually come around to traditional music, because they are not enamored with "popular" music. They may just need more exposure to concertinas and the like.

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While I do agree that I see the same "blue hair" trends at many concerts, I can report a more refreshing experience at the Swannanoa Gathering. This is a summer music program that runs over several weeks with each week having a different theme. At Irish Week there is a noticeable presence of young folks taking instrument classes. For instance, violin classes that week have more than doubled in the last two years and the young participants are already showing themselves to be committed, talented, and very energetic. Try keeping up with them on reels and you'll know what I mean.

 

Music, like almost everything else, has fads and fashion, and they change like the weather. There will be a point at which concertinas start to lose some of their charm for certain individuals and the demand for custom made instruments may plateau or even fall. But with websites like Concertina.Net and others, we've spread the word and the music and instrument will endure. As long as we welcome and nurture those "newbies" that want to learn about the instrument and the music, the future will be bright for the music and the instrument we love.

 

Ross Schlabach

Western NC

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Perhaps I have been in the classroom floggin' music for far too long...

 

Perhaps now that all three of me progeny are in the throws of adolescence and in the case of the youngest two have completely rejected the music of both mother and father and I am ashamed to say at times act like musical bigots...

 

Perhaps seeing the culture change in ways I find degrading to some outdated, naive vision I still harbor concerning humanity....

 

At any rate, I play my box, strum de' ole' banjo and sing...

 

Interesting positive? My middle boy is a Goth (kids all dress in black and listen to music with lyrics that make my blood run cold). One of his compadres came over and was very interested in my concertina. I had a Scholer 20 button on the shelf and gave it to him (yes I felt guilty inflicting it upon an innocent). He has been spotted around town with his top hat and black trench coat playing the beast. What will he do with it?

 

Note to Jim: I'm not worried about Classical Rock. At a first class meeting I engage the students in a little game of "Tell the foolish old man in front of you about your music." They are very well versed in the history of Rock n' Roll if you start with the Beatles. Before that....nothing. It is as if Rock n' Roll sprung forth from the frothy ocean fully formed upon a seashell...(just had a vision of Botticelli's Venus sporting a biker tatoo :blink: .

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Here in Cambridgeshire, there are 3 sorts of club/session. One sort is mainly contempory, visited by students and aging hippies, who also attend the Cambridge Folk Festival (what's the smallest amount of folk we can put on and still call it a folk festival?), the people who turn up at sessions - locally I'm the youngest! and the more traditional clubs populated by the living dead - no response, no movement, no joining in - are they really alive. Apologies to anyone who knows of better clubs - please let me know where they are :-)

All of the youngsters that used to be brought out by their parents have gone on to other things and we can only hope they will come back again when the pressures of university and money earning ease off.

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Popular culture is, by definition, that which is popular.

 

I can't help but remember, Mark, that many of us our age got into folk music in the 60's because it was popular music. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter Paul and Mary were all top 40 recording artists, and we were as likely to hear them at an adolescent gathering as the Beatles or the Stones. Before them, it was the Weavers and the Kingston Trio. Remember the Limeliters? The Chad Mitchel Trio? Donovan? And the Smothers Brothers sold $$$$ of albums long before their TV show.

 

When I was growing up, folk music was one musical passion my father and I could actually share. He never got over rock'n'roll, and I never openly admitted to liking his classical choral music. But we both laughed ourselves to tears at the Smothers Brothers and either one of us could finish any PPM tune you happened to start.

 

So maybe, like others have said, the wheel will come around again.

 

As your comments address my current "folkie" passion, however, the concertina, I am struck by one other thing. I hear many "grey heads" who now play the concertina talk about how they took up the instrument. It often goes something like this: they heard some strange old guy playing a strange little box with absolute magic, and took an interest in it. Sometimes the older gent taught them, sometimes they simply looked to him for inspiration, but they kept at it, even though their friends thought they were a little weird. And now look--their $50 Wheatstone is worth thousands, and we have venues like Noel Hill schools and wonders like concertina.net.

 

Perhaps your investment in your young Goth friend holds more than you know.

 

Just a thought.

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I should be going to bed right now, but first I'll tell this thread about my evening.:

 

I went over to Sweden (a 20-minute ferry ride; otherwise walking distance on both ends) for an Irish session at a waterside pub. It being a warm summer evening, everyone was outside. In addition to the usual mix of mostly Irish and a few Swedish tunes, there were more songs than usual... and greater variety. Some Swedish songs (including a couple of bluegrass standards in translation), a couple of Calypso numbers, one each of Russian and Macedonian, and a couple of classic jazz numbers.

 

One of the Swedish songs was a local one that everybody knows, with a very simple melody that has become the theme piece and processional for beginning Swedish fiddle classes. That's very relevant, because folk music in Sweden may not be as strong as heavy metal rock, but it is definitely strong. The following pictures are from the Degeberga Spelmanstämma (folk-musicians' meeting) 1½ weeks ago, a small (one stage, one dance tent, and a lot of jamming) festival, showing the procession of the children to the stage (playing the tune just mentioned), where all together and in 3 subgroups they performed for more than an hour.

post-13-1120089095_thumb.jpgpost-13-1120089128_thumb.jpg

 

Back to this evening: The ferry back to Denmark after the session was overrun by a group of at least 30 wildly (but not heavy-metal wild) dressed under-30's, who struck up a band and started dancing. Trumpet, trombone, and tuba, playing what I guess to be early dixieland. They looked friendly, so I pulled out my concertina and whistle (the Bb one), and joined in. They seemed pleased, and even threw a couple of solos my way (I had to do some quick improvising). As they packed their instruments for the landing, they told me that for years there has been such a band at Linköping University, and they were the collected alumni having their annual reunion... on their way to Denmark's huge rock festival this weekend in Roskilde.

 

On my walk home I noticed a very Danish-looking fellow at the bus stop, carrying a Middle-Eastern drum.

 

Ah, but then there was the day before. A Swedish PA player who gave me a lift from Degeberga had invited me to join the weekly musical gathering of her family and neighbors. The neighbors are a couple of retired professional classical musicians, and the one collects old band and orchestral arrangements. The teenage daughter plays oboe and trumpet. The younger (I think somebody said 11) plays PA and fiddle, and they both read well. The older daughter's oboe teacher also came, and her daughter, who plays bassoon. So we had -- with some people switching among instruments -- piano, two bassoons, two clarinets, trumpet, two oboes, concert flute, concertina, whistles, alto and baritone saxes, two PA's, and two fiddles. We played tangos, Mozart, klezmer, other folk, and even one of my own compositions. And I've gotten Emma, the young oboist, interested in doing Irish whistle-style ornaments on the oboe. (She was already playing some Irish tunes.)

 

So music is definitely thriving among the young, at least in Sweden.

 

One final point before I go to bed: It's possible to like more than one kind of music... even radically different kinds. There may often be social pressures to the contrary, but I think many pop-rock oriented youth do appreciate classical, jazz, and even folk, though they don't make a public display of it. Mark, if in your teaching of music you can plant that subversive thought, you'll have done well. Anna, the young PA-fiddle player, was wearing a heavy-metal T-shirt while playing in our "classical" session. She was also one of those on the stage at Degeberga.

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FOLKS: about ten years ago, the New York Philharmonic approached the CUNY Graduate Center with a problem. . . . . .their subscribers were growing old (and not being replenished by a younger group). . . . .what could they do. . . . .THEY put forth the idea of attaching amplifiers to the backs of seats. . . . .why: because many of the older subscribers were becoming hard of hearing. . . . .. i think it's the same all over...........allan

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.......That being said, my sons and many of their friends enjoy "alternative" rock played mainly by little known punk bands, whom they follow loyally.  This is not part of pop culture and is a little counter-cultural with respect to others in their generation.  I don't think folk or traditional music will ever be part of a world wide "popular culture" phenomenon, but will always appeal to those who are mildly counter-cultural; i.e. want to preserve and promote that which is not currently "popular".  So our natural audience in the younger generations may be those who are already inclined this way, like my sons and their friends.  If so, there may be some in the younger generations that will eventually come around to traditional music, because they are not enamored with "popular" music.  They may just need more exposure to concertinas and the like.

 

That's Right! :) Well-said.

 

I have a (20-year-old) daughter and I can see how the next generation is so very 'the same yet different.'

 

I have to admit, I am very bothered by the violence of today's 'counterpop music' (hey, I just made that up.... ;) ) -- as Mark says....

...Goth (kids all dress in black and listen to music with lyrics that make my blood run cold)...
-- and it seems that it's never just a 20-minute set in a series of 'special music;' it's more like a societal addiction to poison and destruction. (I can understand the appeal in the mystery of things that are romantically spooky/gothic/ardent...etc...that's not the same thing.)

 

Maybe it's ego-gone-wild, I don't know! I hope the next generation will be free of that (and not due to being absent from earth because of global destruction and extinction).

 

If it'll cheer things up at all....I'll note that my daughter particularly likes a few of the 'oldies.' Mostly in the rock genre, true, though she does like other forms of music.

 

My daughter's college theatre group is going to perform the rock opera, 'Tommy,' in the fall, and that's one that seems 'old' to me, but to this new set of 'kids' it's absolutely great and they love it. In fact, she was mildly depressed that Roger Daltry is old enough to be....what, her (very-young) great-grandpa? Something like that. (Though, she has a boyfriend, anyway.) I've been mildly amused at how this 'rerun' from my younger days has made such a come-back with this particular group.

 

I was never a really big WHO fan at all, but I do take note that 'Tommy' is at least not a bash-fest of violence and hatred. YAY!!! :) And, that there are still some of the younger generation out there who want more than violence and destruction -- they want a good story, with a normal, human, emotional progression to it.

 

As for concert-going, well...there's the ipod to compete with. And a lot of socializing is done online, at one's personal convenience -- gone (it seems) are the days of meaningful social gatherings, i.e., concerts.

 

Hmm...had more to say but I've gotten lost now. (....A 'senior moment,' maybe? :o )

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. . .their subscribers were growing old (and not being replenished by a younger group). . . . .what could they do. . . . .THEY put forth the idea of attaching amplifiers to the backs of seats. . . . .why:...

To attract members of the younger generations, who don't consider it "music" unless the sound intensity is high enough to damage internal organs? :ph34r:

 

...because many of the older subscribers were becoming hard of hearing. . .

Oh! :unsure:

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One final point before I go to bed:  It's possible to like more than one kind of music... even radically different kinds.  There may often be social pressures to the contrary, but I think many pop-rock oriented youth do appreciate classical, jazz, and even folk, though they don't make a public display of it.  Mark, if in your teaching of music you can plant that subversive thought, you'll have done well.  Anna, the young PA-fiddle player, was wearing a heavy-metal T-shirt while playing in our "classical" session.  She was also one of those on the stage at Degeberga.

 

 

I agree completely Jim and labor to plant subversive messages with all my might. There just are moments I feel as if I'm shoveling again the tide.

 

I can handle the students and neighborhood kids who listen to forms of rap as background white noise at volume levels on the bass end that shoot through even my corpulent hide like a hot knife through butter. I force myself to listen to the music my Goth son presents me and am careful in my response (I realize I'm being studied like a lab rat).

 

To the credit of the Goth kids in the neighborhood: When I am on the porch decompressing after work (EC in hand playing hell bent for leather), it is they who will occationally make a comment to one another as they pass by for my benefit I assume, "now that's cool", or I'm told by my son is even better "sick!"

 

The classroom, well I'm making ready for the Fall.

 

I loved seeing all those young fiddlers. Teared me up a bit.

Edited by Mark Evans
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For my 2d, in the UK, the last two or three years have seen many more young folk artists appearing in clubs and at festivals, both as individuals and in bands.

 

The festival goers still tend to be on the more mature side, but the signs are that the young bands are attracting a young following, who also use the rest of the festival. Sessions see younger musicians, but at present singarounds tend to be for the oldies.

 

Some of the younger attendees seem to be children of folkies who have "rediscovered" their parents music after a lay-off to be with their peirs.

 

I personally look forward to the day when I am an old bloke surrounded by youger folk making the music that I love, albeit in their own way. (The "old bloke" bit has unfortunately prematurely arrived! :P )

 

Derek

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It's possible to like more than one kind of music... even radically different kinds. ...  if in your teaching of music you can plant that subversive thought, you'll have done well.

I agree completely ... and labor to plant subversive messages with all my might. There just are moments I feel as if I'm shoveling again the tide.

Left foot, or right foot? (Oops! Wrong thread! ;))

 

The trick, I'm sure you know, is not to tell them, but to trick them into discovering the idea themselves. But it's like farming or gardening (small farm): You plant the seeds, then wait. Some of them will sprout; some won't. Some sprouts will mature and fruit; some won't. And if you try to force a too-early harvest, the results can be anywhere from dissapointing to downright distasteful (ever try eating a green persimmon?).

 

I force myself to listen to the music my Goth son presents me and am careful in my response (I realize I'm being studied like a lab rat).

Then why be "careful"? Surely, he can tell. Maybe he would appreciate some blunt honesty, as long as it doesn't take the form of a belligerent attack.

 

By the way, you want to get him involved in opera? Is he muscular? Currently, the Danish Royal Theater's opera is reported to be seeking on the open job market "...en meget muskuløs herre, der kan spille bøddel i en kommende forestilling [a very muscular man, who can play executioner in an upcoming performance]."

 

To the credit of the Goth kids in the neighborhood:  When I am on the porch decompressing after work (EC in had playing hell bent for leather), it is they who will occasionally make a comment to one another as they pass by for my benefit I assume, "now that's cool", or I'm told by my son is even better "sick!"

The difference in their (overt) responses makes it sound like the issue with your son is not necessarily the music itself, but a need to reject the authority of your values, which is so much easier to do non-selectively. (It's also much easier to draw such conclusions if one isn't familiar with too many of the facts. ;)) As for the passing Addams familiars, do you think they're commenting on your music, or your courage to be publicly different (even from your own contemporaries, I presume)? Not that it couldn't be both.

 

I loved seeing all those young fiddlers.  Teared me up a bit.

And the great thing is that they generally don't reject it as they get older. It may pass by the wayside -- like many an American friend who "used to" play guitar, -- but given an instrument and a comfortable, encouraging situation (again, like the former guitarists), they'll reminisce with a tune or two. Even better, local "folk-musician associations" are scattered everywhere, with membership rolls ranging from a few to more than 50, and all the Scandinavian countries have major university/conservatory programs dedicated to folk music, with admission highly competitive. And at least in Sweden and Finland, there are entire towns whose cultural activity centers on folk music schools (in Kaustinen, Finland, it's a secondary school). Imagine the US having at least one school like Berea in every state.

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Bleh. I'm in my mid 20s and would attend folk or classical concerts if I could afford to - at this stage in my life I can't. I'm hardly the average, though, as a teen I was playing Grieg in my car, not Nirvana or Eminem or whatever.

 

To the credit of the Goth kids in the neighborhood:  When I am on the porch decompressing after work (EC in had playing hell bent for leather), it is they who will occationally make a comment to one another as they pass by for my benefit I assume, "now that's cool", or I'm told by my son is even better "sick!"

 

Of course! From my own observations, goth kids generally like things that are a little out of the ordinary, and Concertinas aren't mainstream popular.

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