Great comment about having fun learning classical music

I love this comment from Jeff Agrell on my post Playing Vuvuzela, or Clarinet, having Fun.

Loved your post and the great questions, the central one I hear as being: How can you have fun on the instrument and be a classical musician? Sort of the opposite of the non-classical musician, who might ask: How can I continue the fun I have on the instrument and get really good on it?

The problem is that we don't "play" our instruments. We serious them.

In a way, we're like a boy who is always in his Sunday best, never allowed to get dirty and play in the mud or tramp through the fields and woods, be a pirate with a stick for a sword, etc. I certainly wasn't. I spent many decades never playing a note on horn that wasn't written by somebody else. I did get out of the box and get dirty - but not on horn.

I explored other musical worlds on guitar (dabbling also on banjo, mandolin, bass, percussion, autoharp, etc.). The twain didn't meet until a decade ago when I switched from symphony work to university teaching. I simply had to try something different - I was so tired of doing the same thing for so long. It was scary, but I learned to make up music on the horn.

I ended up giving improvised concerts, workshops, making recordings, a semester course (Improvisation for Classical Musicians), and some books (Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians; Improv Games for One Player).

Adding the dimension of aural (no printed notes) music making and music training changes everything. It completes you as a musician. It provides the missing fun as well as being a great way to work on technique. The two sides (literate and aural) are not mutually exclusive. They need each other. Adding an aural component to music ed needs to start at the earliest levels. It would lead to all kinds of transformative wonders, and get a lot more people to stay in music (many drop out in the current system).

I haven't thought about the dance part (although I've improvised for improvising dancers before). But I like the idea very much. I'll give it a shot and let you know how it comes out. Jeff Agrell

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