Youth and Classical Music: An Unlikely Pair?

Article by Isabel Quah

Music. Everyone listens to it and everyone enjoys it, but some genres are not appreciated to their entirety. Classical music is one of these significant genres which people, more specifically the youth, are still hesitant about. Classical music is not a genre listened to by the majority – it differs greatly from the typical groovy beats that stem from mainstream pop and house music that many of the youth have saved on their iPods. Classical music may seem boring to this age group due to its slow tempo and poetic lyrics that may not strike most young people as particularly interesting or “jam-worthy”. This leads to classical music buffs frequently earning a sneer from people claiming that it sounds “too operatic”. Normally, the only exceptional situation in which one can listen to classical music without earning perplexed looks from peers and classmates is during exam week, when heavy studying calls for some Vivaldi to stir neurons in the brain into their prime capabilities. Sophomore Jeffrey Bui admits to listening to classical music when he studies, as it is “very calm and relaxing, [and] it helps [him] focus much better and feel better”.  He also comments on the lack of appreciation for classical music, attributing it to the insufficiency of exposure the youth have to the genre.

Thankfully, within ISM’s music curriculum, teachers have attempted to broaden appreciation for the complexity of classical pieces. Orchestra member and Senior Shin Won Kim claims that the ISM music department has exposed her to classical music, and as a result she has developed a great appreciation for it.  She claims that it has helped her explore a lot of the different aspects of classical music, and she says: “I started to appreciate the beauty of classical music. The complexity and fluidity of the notes has me in awe of the composers, musical geniuses such as Beethoven and Mozart.”

The grand finale of the recently-performed Great Works Concert was Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms”. In preparation for the big event, many of the music students had to sit through grueling hours of rehearsals in order to master this great work, which is a challenging and difficult piece. Fortunately, it is becoming apparent that classical music is starting to be more widely appreciated amongst the younger generation. This growing popularity is fueled by artists such as Il Volo, a young trio of tenors from Italy, and the YouTube sensation The Piano Guys.  Such groups give classical music a modern twist, as they perform their own adaptation of traditional classic song, as well as covering modern songs in a classical way. By promoting classical music in this manner, artists bring to light a new approach to classical music, thus making it more appealing to the youth.