Searching for Inspiration

by Daniel Jang, Violin/Viola Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Daniel Jang, Violin/Viola Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Daniel Jang

In recent decades, football, baseball, basketball, and hockey have been the most popular sports in the United States.  There are entire television channels, magazines, and incredibly expensive stadiums dedicated to these athletic events.  This past week, baseball and basketball were at the forefront of national news due to the World Series and the NBA lockout.  And with football season in full bloom, there’s no avoiding the cheers of excitement emanating from your living room.  If you love sports, whether you are in a league or involved at school, you are constantly exposed to and inspired by your favorite athletes by television, internet, and other media.  But how many of you can name your favorite violinist?  How about a pianist that you admire or an orchestra that you like to go see?  The world of classical music is not exactly front page news, but rest assured that with a little searching, you will be surprised by the many great concerts, recitals, and performances there are all around you.

Did you know that almost seventy five years ago, the television network NBC used to have its own orchestra?  For many years, the NBC Symphony Orchestra was even paid for by the network itself without any sponsors.  It had an entire fifty two-week season, offered the highest salaries, and was considered one of the greatest orchestras in the world.  NBC even had a show called “The Bell Telephone Hour” from 1940 to 1958 featuring the best performers in classical music and had many millions of weekly viewers.  Fast forward to today… A classical music performance on television is extremely rare.  Changes in the last seventy five years may be perceived as people losing interest in Mozart, Bartok, or Debussy, but in reality, getting exposed to these great composers just requires a little bit of homework.

The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphony, Youth Symphony, Chamber Orchestra, and CU Boulder Symphony Orchestra are among the dozens of ensembles that give regular performances around Boulder County.  There are even more concerts surrounding our city and don’t forget about Denver’s Colorado Symphony, Ballet, and Opera.  Local events to look forward to in November are Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker by the Boulder Ballet, the CU Boulder Symphony Orchestra concert on the 17th, and the Boulder Symphony concert on the 18th.  The School of Music at CU Boulder has over fifty free performances this month alone!  Now, how do we get excited about these performances and what can we do to prepare for watching a live concert?

When enjoying sports on television, we are watching performances of the best athletes in the world.  After the Denver Nuggets or the Rockies have a thrilling match, do you get inspired to shoot some hoops or play catch with your friends?  Try searching online for information on the world’s celebrated musicians for the instruments you play.  For guitarists, try a search for Andrés Segovia or the Assad Brothers.  For those who play a stringed instrument, watch incredible videos of violin virtuoso Jascha Heifetz or learn the inspiring story of Jacqueline du Pré.  Also, we can go watch the world renowned Takács Quartet perform because they live right here in Boulder!  If you take voice lessons, look up “The Met Opera” on YouTube, or learn about Wagner’s operas and why there is a ten year waiting list for the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth.

Inspiration, whether it comes from your parents, teachers, favorite athletes, or musicians, can be very important to how much you enjoy a hobby or a subject in school.  What if you were the only person on Earth who played baseball?  It would be very difficult to enjoy and improve your game with no other players on the field.  Once you have a full roster and other teams to compete with, you can expect to get better as a player and help your friends win games.  The same applies to learning an instrument.  With help from family, teachers, and idols, it is your responsibility to make playing music as enjoyable and educational as possible.  So get out there, learn, and have fun!

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