I for one consider classical music neither dead nor dying.
As to teachers, I had about 12 different teachers as I grew up (piano,
organ, clarinet and school ensemble teachers), and liked them all, and
believe to this day (I am now 52) that I learned a good deal from each of
As to practicing, my parents paid for all the lessons I wanted as long as
I kept up with school and chores and such. I have had several hundred
students myself over the past few decades and find there is virtually the
same kind of enthusiasm for a small percentage today. Those are the ones
that may become musicians. It is not for everybody, and the ones who are
not hungry for classical music will drop by the wayside from the efforts
of their teachers, or parents, or their own volition or some combination.
That is also as it should be.
As to adult hobby players, it seems to me there are many. In my little
Pacific Northwest town of a little over 100,000 there is a fine
professional orchestra, a professional chamber orchestra, and opera and
ballet of some stature, a college orchestra, several period instrument
ensembles, and two complete orchestras of adult amateurs (I happen to
conduct them both)
It is clear that many major classical events in our community draw
audiences of 3-6% of the total population. Here again, it is not for
everyone, but there are enough to support a lively scene overall.
Certainly there are improvements we can all make to bring this wonderful
music to more people. Certainly it is sad to hear of the demise of
important ensembles or broadcast institutions. And certainly there are
horrer stories of bad teachers, and grossly ignorant and insensitive
"modern" ensembles and such.
But from my vantage, classical music is neither dead nor dying. It is a
special and wonderful activity. It will never reach everyone, nor does it
need to. But there will always be some: some good teachers, some good
students, some wonderful young performers coming up, enthusiastic adults
who play a little and spend lots of their time and money on tickets and
CD's and wonderful performances by established performers. The HIP
scholars and performers and audiences are adding a terrific new frosting
to the cake, on every layer.
...maybe I have just had too much delicious cold turkey and leftover
(in the same neck of the woods as Owen, believe it or not)