“Where’s my Walkman?”

Today, one of my pupils posed an interesting, and somewhat unexpected question:

What music did you listen to when you were my age?

I was stumped.

The awful thing is, I genuinely don’t remember listening to music when I was growing up. Much of the music I listened to was the music I made playing my own instruments. I was also exposed to a good deal of music throughout my schooling, but again, mainly that created live. Besides the odd favourite cassette, mainly of music recorded from the radio, that was about it.

That said, what struck me most about this exchange, was the huge change  in the availability and accessibly of music. When I was her age, if I wanted to listen to music outside of the house, I’d have to have taken my Walkman (ensuring it had functioning batteries), headphones, and a selection of cassette tapes.

Nowadays, so long as we have a functioning internet connection, we can literally call up any song, any piece of music at the flick of a switch. Everything is available on-demand wherever in the world we are. Even without a functioning internet connection, we can store thousands of tracks on our mobile devices, all easily accessed at any time.

But, despite this change, we can’t help but see, and often feel, a longing for something more authentic. Something tangible which we can hold. Perhaps this, in part, explains the increase in the sale of vinyl LPs. In 2017, 3.2 million LPs were sold, a rise of 53% on the previous year and the highest number since 1991.

I see this in my own teaching too. Just as you can access any music you want at the touch of a button, so too can you learn an instrument, any time, any place, just by calling up a video on YouTube. Yet, I see no shortage of people wanting to learn an instrument. I see no decrease in pupils, if anything, quite the opposite is true.

I believe that deep down, as much as we savour the connectivity of our world, we all crave for something more authentic. The deeply emotional connections you make learning an instrument with a teacher, and indeed, playing with others for that matter, cannot be replicated by sitting alone in front of a computer screen.

I truly believe that in all walks of life, the appetite for something more authentic, is a desire which is already gathering pace.


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