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Archive for February, 2015

I was having a discussion with someone who mentioned that another person is a “classically trained musician”. I hear this expression from time to time and wonder just exactly what one means by this, which sounds rather pretentious and hoity-toity to me.  I know someone who tells others he is a “classically trained musician” because he was once in the high school band and took private lessons on his instrument while in high school, but who has not performed in any capacity since that time. I roll my eyes every time I see him do it.

To give some background, I have formal training in music; it was my major when I attended university. Before that, I received formal instruction on the piano, flute, and French horn, both privately and in school and qualified for the regional band, comprised of musicians from several different schools in the area.  I did not attend a prestigious university for music, though I was accepted by one (Berklee).

But I would never think to describe myself as a “classically trained musician”, though instruction in classical music was most certainly part of my education.  My Facebook profile includes which university I attended and my major and that’s it.  I allow people to draw whatever conclusions they wish from that.   If asked, I would say that I have “formal musical training”, which is factual without pretentious euphemism.  Similarly, if I were currently a working  musician, I would never think of describing myself as an “artist”, which I also find unnecessary and euphemistic.  Musician is a perfectly respectful title that needs no embellishment and is a more specific description, too.

And despite being a formally trained musician,  the world is full of top drawer musicians who have no formal training at all, “classical” or otherwise, whose talent I could never hope to match.

Let’s quit using this unhelpful, vague, and elitist phrase and let the music speak for itself.

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