By Brian Farley
In the UK for the last 18 years at least, a whole generation has been virtually starved of live musicians for a variety of reasons. The advent of computers being a standard household utility with their accompanying music production and downloadable music format devices, together with widespread video and latterly DVD technology has kept many a youngster indoors for most of their leisure time. Coupled with the rising overheads and prohibitive licence fees and conditions imposed on UK venues such as pubs and restaurants to house live artistes (or even play recorded music), this has had a devastating effect on professional musicians and potential artistes alike. The biggest losers are the members of our younger generations â€“ many of whom have never even heard a live musician or band.
It is easy to see why therefore, that during my live gigs lately, I am frequently faced with a young person totally agape watching the live musician at work. They have no doubt become conditioned to accepting music as an impersonally generated medium and find it fascinating to witness the live, hands-on music creativity. Fortunately, this seems to be having an inspirational effect. Having spent most of my career working with theatre orchestras and larger musical combos, I have recently returned to working a lot of solo gigs as a cocktail pianist playing a variety of music styles but often older standards such as Cole Porter, George Gershwin, etc. The thing is, not only am I now finding Iâ€™m being booked by the youngster that first saw me a few years ago, but they are requesting that I play the same style of music for their wedding reception or birthday party. It seems that they have got into this sort of music through being made aware of it when I first played for them and they were so intrigued by it.
There is very little coverage on UK radio or television of any music style other than the most recent commercial music. The sad thing is that if younger people do not get the opportunity to witness other musical styles because it is not in the mainstream broadcasts and because live music is so rare, we are not giving them the chance to decide if they like it or not. We have therefore been creating a generation for many years that is one-tracked in its musical culture, when we should have been giving our youngsters much more choice.
Brian Farley has been a worldwide professional Musical Director and pianist since 1974, and now operates pianist4u.co.uk from the UK as a cocktail pianist for weddings and other functions. His easy sheet music website “Easy Music Pieces” for those learning to play a musical instrument, provides simple original music solos with a recorded play-along accompaniment. He also has some good free “reading musical notation” information.
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