Many people use the term “elitist” to describe aspects of choral music.
The problem, as I see it is that this term means different things to different people. So in this short verbal essay, I reflect on the need to be specific when we criticize. I also discuss some places that I see Elitism in choral music. From the teacher training programs to the trenches of the profession, as well as in conversations on what it means to be a “great” choir. Should we avoid language that seeks to elevate some choral ensembles as “great” and risk creating an elitist culture? Or, is such a hierarchy a necessary outgrowth of working toward performance art related goals? *audio on this episode is not normal. I am traveling!
Some possible areas that draw this type of critique:
The concept of “what it means to be a good choir.”
How much focus gets placed on musical elements being “perfect.”
How does Academia contribute to elitism in the training of teachers?
Are there aspects of teaching “in the trenches” that are hard to see until you’re there?
Tune in via podcast platforms or on YouTube for the first volley of the conversation. Then feel free to add your thoughts in the Choralosophers facebook group or in the response form on the main page of choralosophy.com
The hot topic this week has been choir snobbery online in regards to pop music, or commercial music. I think this is an important topic, but as always, I have my own little angle that might be different than most. It could be that telling people what they must support can be just as elitist as not supporting things. I will call it “Preference Policing.” So, where is the line?
Can we express our likes and dislikes just like other consumers of music?
Or do we, as music educators need to vocally “cheerlead” all music?
Is the tendency for vocalists to nitpick the techniques or “validity” of pop singers a sign of our corruptly elitist view of singing?
Maybe. But it could also be that we’re just jealous…
I saw a few posts from colleagues recently that seemed to lament our inability to have good discussions among people who disagree online. The first problem: we aren’t actually having discussions anymore…
The best conversations I’ve ever had with colleagues have been in the bar at conventions. Or on my show!
Just a random rant in my car. As performance opportunities dwindled over the last year, we have been quick to rationalize this as a good thing. Maybe because we needed to in order to cope with the loss? Either way, maybe it’s not that simple. Maybe the performances are critical.