The compassionate conservatoire
Why should governments continue to support higher education in music? What is the role of the conservatoire (or college, or academy) in today’s society? In my opinion, music should not remain behind closed doors, nor be presented almost exclusively to the ‘culturally aware’ audience. If I may say so, I would love for music – even classical music! – to sound in places where people are desperate for someone to care about them. Can we care for people through music? Can we give something back to society for allowing us to pursue our dreams and study music? Give it a try! Donate the general rehearsal to the local nursing home, day care, school, church outreach, hospital, prison, you name it, before your exam concert or whatever you are preparing for. Or simply have fun with your friends, putting together a programme especially for them! Ask for their feedback in return, improve the idea, and maybe the next thing you know is that you’ve started a business. In any case, you’ve reached out to somebody and gotten in touch with some new people. Music matters because people matter! Quite recently, I’ve began to ask my classes to consider giving a concert at an alternative location. I was prepared to having to convince them, but the students are responding with sincere enthusiasm! So far, we’ve visited a nursing home, a retirement home and the national library. The library concerts can hardly be labelled charity concerts, since the library gladly took on a big load concerning the marketing and organizing. Still, we reached a new audience and met society in another way. Perhaps we can take the concept further away from the ‘concert comfort zone’ later on. Wouldn’t it be great if a conservatoire could be more than just a conservatoire? What if the conservatoires would be known as places of compassion, generosity and presence in the local community? That could change lives one chord at a time! Besides, I bet that would be quite an application for continued support.