Pictured above is Maestro Marin Alsop. She is the music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and principal conductor of Brazil's Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra.
Oh, yes...and she's a woman.
The significance of this has been in the news recently especially since she is one of a few female conductors of symphony orchestras and in light of recent chauvinistic comments made by a newly appointed male conductor in Norway. (His new employer is doing frantic damage control.)
This post is not about her role as a conductor nor that she is a woman. It is a response to an interview where she was asked the following:
Do you listen to music, or is that too much like work?
Alsop: Absolutely not.
Most would consider this an odd response from someone whose life is music.
However, I agree with her sentiments. In fact, upon reading this I found comfort and validation for something at I'd always felt made me different.
You see, while I enjoy, nay, I LOVE music, I do not listen to it all the time.
Because I find when I listen to it, pure enjoyment is not possible because I either find myself analyzing the musical form/harmony/melody/etc or listening to the piece and ascertaining whether and how I might use it in the classroom.
It becomes, as Alsop implies, too close to work.
I have been in situations where a piece of music was played and it totally ruined the experience for me. Not because I was hearing a bad piece of music, but because my listening moved from enjoyment to analytical - which equals work.
That is why I find I must purposefully listen to music. And at those times I am listening for the reasons given above - to analyze or find use for it in the classroom.
When given the choice I listen to talk radio (KMOX in St. Louis is a favorite) or NPR. I listen to NPR for the entertaining/thought-provoking programs, but when programming switches to classical music one of two things occurs: 1) I turn it off or change stations; or 2) I leave it on, but only as white noise to tune out environmental sounds.
This difficulty listening to music for music's sake has hindered my enjoyment of many concerts.
Don't get me wrong, I so want to enjoy the concert, but that which I've been trained to do, that which is my vocation, is difficult to turn off.
I guess this blog offers odd insight into the brain of a musician.
I'm relieved that I'm not the only one.
I've thought all these years I was.