If my mind’s not trying to fix something or create something, I don’t know what to do. It just throws me off.—will.i.am
As predicted, I totally missed on my Grammy predictions. I’ll look at the exact damage later, but I mentioned when making those predictions that Taylor Swift would likely win where she was nominated, and she did. Congratulations to her.
Of course, not everyone is happy with the outcome, as is normal; there are always differences of opinion and taste. What I found interesting this morning, though, is that the hashtag #IfICouldFixMusic is trending, apparently a product of the Comedy Central show, @Midnight. I thought the topic might be interesting, so I read through some of the most recent tweets.
#IfICouldFixMusic there would still be guitar solos instead of every song being 3 minutes long just for radio
— Return of the Mack (@returnomack) February 16, 2016
#IfICouldFixMusic learning an instrument would be mandatory in all elementary schools
— attillathehunny (@Attilathehunnny) February 16, 2016
— MustBeTheMeds (@MustBeTheMeds) February 15, 2016
— William DeGeest (@williamdegeest) February 15, 2016
The list of comments was the typical mix of, “I wouldn’t change anything” and “no more of the stuff I don’t like.” Some of them were funny, most were not, and a few were almost insightful. Are there issues within the music industry? Sure, there always has been. 40 years ago it was the labels ripping off artists, now it’s the streaming services (allegedly). Anywhere there is money being exchanged for talent, problems are going to be part of the equation. Everyone has music they like, genres they don’t like, and most everyone I know has fairly diverse taste. But then, most the people I know are already cool, so that’s to be expected.
It seems to me that #IfICouldFixMusic is best divided into two categories: fantasy and practical. The fantasy side is fun to think about, but you know is never going to really happen. That list would look something like this:
- Only people with real talent would become famous
- Concert tickets wouldn’t require taking out a third mortgage
- I’d be able to find all the old vinyl I had as a teen and it would still be in good condition
- Cars would not be allowed to have woofers bigger than the engine block
- Legends wouldn’t die at age 27.
- Everyone would be born with their own soundtrack, and together they would intermingle to create the world’s greatest symphonies.
I know I’m not going to get any of the things in that list, though. Life doesn’t have an alternative fantasy setting. So, if we really want to change music, we have to look at some of the more practical solutions, beginning with the people who never take to a stage.
- Every child would be taught to sing, play an instrument, and read music. One never truly begins to appreciate something until they understand it. Music education is fundamental and should be exceedingly well funded in every school.
- Music theory classes wouldn’t be at 8:00 AM every morning. Too many promising music students have been lost because no one can make sense of counterpoint that early in the morning.
- There would be no gender bias at any level. Do you realize how few female sound engineers there are? Or female orchestra conductors?
- School guidance counselors would never say discouraging things like, “Music is already an over-saturated field; your odds of success are not good.” Yes, I’ve heard those words.
- Access to instruments and instruction wouldn’t be so damned expensive. My parents sacrificed to pay for my piano lessons and college. The price of band and orchestra instruments is too prohibitive for too many people.
- Community sing-a-longs would be a thing all the time, not just at Christmas.
Many of the problems that music faces start with the fact that our musical foundations aren’t strong. Talented people go unheard and undiscovered. People who could be talented are never given the opportunity to sing or play an instrument. Too many people talking and making decisions about music are uninformed and fail to understand music beyond its sales sheets. Music appreciation begins in pre-school and rudimentary education should start then so that, as we grow, we not only understand music better, but we can make better music.
#IfICouldFixMusic is one of those hashtags that could go on forever with a wishlist as long as the Internet. But without basic early music education, what’s the point?