The Authenticity of Community Music

A Trio of Suzuki Kids

Image by Scuddr via Flickr

In the social media marketing world, we often emphasize the necessity for authenticity. I don’t think there is anything more authentic or genuine than watching families come together for a musical production at a temple, or watching kids, ages 3 to 18, playing violin or viola. Over the weekend, I accompanied my wife to a couple of shows that included the children she teaches. One show was The Fiddler on the “New” Roof and the second was a festival of violin and viola students at the school she teaches.

On Saturday, we saw The Fiddler on the “New” Roof, which was a condensed version of the Broadway production put together by a Temple that had just reopened after a long year of reconstruction and renovation. One of my wife’s students played the role of the fiddler. It was amazing to see husband, wives, sons and daughters performing with each other and for each other. Missed notes and all, I can’t remember watching a group have that much fun on a stage. In all its rawness and lack of high quality staging, it was a great pleasure to people enjoying the real purpose of music – celebration.

Then on Sunday, my wife’s school had a performance featuring this years violin and viola Suzuki students. The idea behind the festival is to start programming with the most advanced students performing more advanced music and slowly add younger and lesser advanced students. By concert’s end, the stage was full of students blanketing the concert hall with strings. The concert began with a fun version of Aaron Copland‘s Hoedown. The performance ended with a fun iteration of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

I often think the joy and art of performance is becoming lost. I often criticize the music industry for its lack of authenticity. In today’s music world, we are inundated with overproduced music using programs and gizmos to make it sound better and fix incorrect notes. I watch performances on TV, and many are lip synced. With so many people suffering from Simpsonitis, we all remember that wonderful Ashlee Simpson slip up, I cherish the groups that are willing to go on stage, play their guts out, and aren’t worried about missing some notes.

The industry can learn something from community programs. Yes, paid musicians need to produce quality music, but some of the best music includes wrong notes and often has little to no production. The character of these community music programs were simply straightforward, honest, charming and great fun to watch and listen too. The best music focuses on performance, and these music programs did just that. Think about all the performances that were recorded years ago that still resonate today and ask why they still do.

Music is always about the performance.

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2 comments on “The Authenticity of Community Music
  1. Music should always be about performance. What’s scary to me is that our culture is beginning to put more and more stock into recorded music vs. live performance. The result is listening to a bunch of artists that are more about a presentable image, and less about talent.

    When I saw Odair Assad in concert a few months ago, I was struck by his complete lack of giving a crap about mistakes or anything else. He was there to play guitar. And he did! The best performers, it seems, can set aside that ego that forces people to be hypercritical; the best performers play like they don’t give a crap about the notes. But they do care deeply about making music. Too much music get’s lost in the music industries quest for perfection.


  2. “Music is always about the performance.”

    You’re so true… That’s one interesting fact about the changing world that “music industry” is facing nowadays, i.e. decrease in CD sales, rise of the social media and music streaming (legal and illegal). I mean that as this industry can’t survive on the CD production model, and most important as the artists don’t get that much revenue from copyrighted material, they all have to refocus on the heart of the musician job which is… Live performance!! That’s what people like Trent Reznor or Joe Bonamassa understood… And that’s how they manage to survive!! They perform again and again…

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