Categories
Community Talking about Music

17 reasons to love amateur musicians!

A friend just sent me this great article by Ariane Todes! You should read the whole thing HERE. Ariane is a terrific writer who lives in London and runs the website Elbow Music. Check it out!!

17 ways amateur musicians contribute to the classical music world:

  1. We go to concerts
  2. We offer solo performing opportunities for young stars, orchestral players and international celebrities who need try-out gigs
  3. We support venues by booking concerts in them and usually filling them up
  4. We promote classical music to our non-music friends who might never have engaged before
  5. We commission composers and perform new works
  6. We raise money for charity
  7. We hire music from orchestral libraries
  8. We buy gear – strings, music, accessories, cases, sheet music
  9. We buy instruments – old and new. (Judging by some of the intense conversations I’ve had about modern instruments, there seems to be more openness and enthusiasm towards them in amateur orchestras than among professionals)
  10. We benefit local schools by paying to rehearse in their halls. (We’re usually desperate to find good rehearsal spaces. Are you listening, whoever is planning Simon Rattle’s new concert hall?)
  11. We offer an alternative outlet for conservatoire students who choose not to become professionals
  12. We pay musicians for lessons
  13. We influence young musicians – whether as parents, relatives or friends
  14. We support young conductors, both through concerts and masterclasses
  15. We offer chances for recording engineers to practise their skills
  16. We support young players by going to their concerts, spreading the word and lending them instruments
  17. We support the local economy. (Rehearsals usually end in the pub.)

Categories
Community Vocal and Choral Music

That great new team sport: singing!

Everybody’s saying it: Choral singing is good for you! Just google “choral singing” and you’ll get tons of references for how singing with a group boosts mental health, boosts mindfulness, and is just an all around good thing.

I saw an interesting segment on “Face the Nation” recently, an interview with author Daniel Pink, whose book When (“The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing”) focuses on the physicality of creativity and how to maximize our bodies’ natural rhythms to be more effective and happy. He discusses exercise and how crucial it is to take regular breaks incorporating a walk or other movement.

He also talks about teamwork and how powerful synchronizing and coordinating with other people can be. “There’s a new exercise out there, and it’s choral singing! Choral singing has benefits that are just extraordinary, at the physiological level and the psychological level. It is useful for cancer patients, it improves your immune response, it boosts your mood; so there’s something about synchronizing with other people that makes us feel good.”

Pink goes on to say that in children the effect of teamwork and particularly singing is even more dramatic: “I think there’s some good evidence that in schools, that choir (and) choral groups, not only as an ancillary activity, but as something that actually boosts the moods of kids, improves their social and emotional learning, and could conceivably make them better citizens of the school.” And I would add, of the world!

Link to the Daniel Pink interview.

(the choral part is at about 4:30, but the interview is short and the whole thing is terrific.)

Categories
Community

Hello from Lolly Lewis

Hello and welcome to the Amateur Music Network blog!

This is my first post so I thought I’d introduce myself: I’m Lolly Lewis, the founder of AMN.

Lolly Lewis, Amateur Music Network

I’m a recording producer and an amateur singer, and I sang for nearly 15 years with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. This is where I learned how porous the boundary between “amateur” and “professional” is in music. I studied music and singing in college, and I have sung professionally (that is, for money) from time to time. But as a career, I was more interested in recording than in singing, and my passion is working with artists to make beautiful recordings. So I didn’t pursue a career as a performer, and I preferred to stay under the radar in chorus without the stress of auditioning to join the professional ranks. Nevertheless, the expectation of all singers, paid and volunteer, was to perform at a level commensurate with singing in one of the great orchestral choruses of the world! So we all worked hard and the satisfaction was immense. I’ve sung some amazing repertoire with some of the great Maestros of our time! How fortunate is that. And all as a true amateur: I do it because I love it.

The difference between amateur and professional in our culture seems so arbitrary. Yes, we all know there are players of the highest ability and skill level, those who dedicate their lives to playing music. Thank goodness for them! I love hearing that skill and dedication in concert, and imaginative experiences of such power are central to my life experience and satisfaction. Hooray for great concerts!

But that doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t have profound and joyous music performance experiences of our own, at whatever level we are comfortable. That’s why I founded the Amateur Music Network – to give people opportunities to sing and play, to improve their skills, and to join with one another to experience the joy of music-making.

I hope you’ll find this website useful in your own path and that you’ll help spread the word about the AMN. The more people in our community, the more vitality and richness we’ll all find here.