Κυριακή, 4 Μαρτίου 2012

Taking (musical) education for granted

Some days ago, I found myself in an interesting conversation with a colleague at work. The conversation made me realise something extraordinary: that we take education in general for granted. I admit, I never thought about it before now, but it happens to be true.
Let me explain what I mean: Ideally, we all go to school to learn stuff. And of course we hate it most of the time... It's only natural! Who likes waking up early in the morning to do calculus or grammar - especially if the weather outside is inviting you to go for a pick nick! Still, we all suffer through the school years and eventually graduate. After that some of us go to university to further our education, while others find a job and yet others simply do nothing (or go into politics...) What we do not realise is that the education we received at school and university is what qualifies us to do a specific kind of work. It can be our choice or it can be a job we do because nothing better came up and we desperately need the money or it's something someone else chose for us. In any case, our education is what helps us perform our duties...
And that is the linking word taking us into the next part of the conversation: "perform"! Ideally, musical education begins at an early age. Now, I am not going to talk about those of us who started to learn an instrument and dropped out for different reasons. I am going to talk about those talented and patient people who succeed in their musical training and turn that into their way of life. Let's think backwards for a second: All the musicians comprising an orchestra have studied at a conservatory or music academy. Even wunderkinder in music take lessons to further their skill and talent (but a wunderkind usually pursues a solo career and doesn't join an orchestra body for life). So, our musicians have to start from somewhere, otherwise no orchestra can exist!
Now to the politics part of this discussion - and yes, I will turn yet another blog entry into a "Save the State Conservatory of Thessaloniki" propaganda. The most talented musicians of northern Greece aspire to be accepted into this conservatory at a young age, because from there, they can work in the most important music bodies of Greece - the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra being one of them. Let's also not forget that this particular orchestra was founded and staffed by musicians of the Conservatory! Also, even to this day, a large number of musicians at the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra are graduates of the Conservatory. So, I ask our government: What will become of the Orchestra, if you stop funding the Conservatory? It will lose a number of future musicians who would love to become members of the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra, because it is THE leading orchestra of northern Greece!
Of course, one has to take into account the fact that even the Orchestra is faced with huge cuts in its budget; cuts that might affect its function in the very near future... Everything is the result of a faulty financial policy created with the sole purpose of destroying nations. Hopefully, someone will step forward and change things for all culture institutions all over the country and save them. Until that time comes, I am obliged to remind the audience that visits the concerts of the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra that they need to help save the State Conservatory of Thessaloniki as well, otherwise their Orchestra will lose future musicians that will staff it. Musicians do not spring up from the ground, they become musicians through training and education, just as a mathematician has to learn mathematical forms first and then teach or revolutionise the field... No parthenogenesis exists, we all acquire our skills through our teachers. What we do with those skills afterwards, is entirely up to us.