As musicians, and more generally, artists, we strive to create a connection between ourselves and the audience. Our job is to make them feel what we feel.
But what if we don’t feel what we want to feel? Everybody has had that rush of emotion in their lives before. Whether it be joy, rage, grief, or love, we as humans know exactly what it is like to have a feeling that is so strong that the only thing you can do is embrace it.
Music isn’t dying. No matter what the general public wants you to think, music will always be a part of mankind. Without it, there’s no point in life. The problem is, is that we as musicians have to create a way for that emotional bridge to remain intact across different generations.
Yes, we’ve seen orchestras go bankrupt in recent times, but there are many reasons to that. Some include the lack of a desire to create new and exciting ventures into a fresh generation of listeners. For others, it is as simple as poor management.
It all comes down to the one thing that draws us to music, and that is emotion. I realized that music was my life at a concert right after I graduated high school. I was performing with U.S. Navy Band Southwest, my Dad was the conductor, and we played an extremely simple brass chorale. It was colors, for the lowering of the flag at sunset.
As is standard, all of the active duty members and veterans stood and saluted the flag. Nothing about my approach to the music stirred me. I was lazy, didn’t embrace it, and couldn’t realize what it meant until what I saw next.
In the front row, a WWII veteran struggled out of his wheelchair, refusing help, and saluted the flag. He stood as straight as could be, and he burst into tears, and what I hadn’t realized was that I was crying as well. That was the click. That was the moment for me, when I realized that music could mean so much more.
Sure, I felt a rush of adrenaline every once in a while during high school, but I had not driven myself to make that connection. It was just natural. Music can do that to anyone, but now it’s like an addiction. Every time I set my embouchure on my horn, it might seem so ordinary, but it is the start of an adventure. I strive to make the music mean something more, to make a difference with how I play. It’s not about what you’re listening to… it’s about what you’re FEELING. You have to make it MEAN something. It HAS to have emotion.
If we as musicians approach what we “love” so much without passion and feeling, then how can we expect the audience to appreciate what we do? THAT is the reason we think music is dying. We think that our generation doesn’t have the attention span for “good” music, that they listen to crap and can’t appreciate the greatness of Brahms and Beethoven.
Does a car company say it’s the consumer’s fault for not buying their car because they can’t understand how great it is? No, they go change it until it’s something the consumer wants. Why don’t we? What makes us better than that? We have to create. That doesn’t necessarily mean new music, but we have to create a reason for the audience to love the music. We have to love what we do, down to the core of our being, so others can, too.
If we don’t, then what’s the point?
Dakota Corbliss has played with the New World Symphony, Symphonicity, South Florida Philharmonic, the Symphony of the Americas, and has performed concertos with the Virginia Tech Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the New River Valley Symphony Orchestra. He is a founding member of the Vice City Brass (vicecitybrass.com).
He joined FredBrass as faculty in 2014.