Classical Music Among Youth

Anna Barnard, Staff Writer

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When we think of the music that defines our current youth culture, genres like hip hop and indie music pop into our heads. We are living in the era of autotune and lip sync, with heavy backbeats that drown out melodies. On the other end of the spectrum, classical music is probably one of the genres with which many youth would be least likely to identify. However, the movement to promote classical music amongst youth is currently picking up steam, and some teens are already beginning to latch onto it.
Concert halls are acting as an influential force in this effort to revive classical music; in fact, the Minnesota Orchestra is an important local institution that is trying to appeal to youth with music. Along with traditional concert series, the Minnesota Orchestra has been adding series with more familiar music in order to appeal to those who aren’t necessarily classical music connoisseurs.
Included in these new concert series are live performances of film scores (such as E.T., Ratatouille, and Harry Potter), holiday performances, and specially designated youth performances (such as a performance of Peter and the Wolf, a children’s story with a score by Sergei Prokofiev). In addition, Orchestra Hall, the main performance venue for the Minnesota Orchestra, is hosting several concerts this year that are being performed by youth groups. Minnesota Youth Symphonies (MYS), as well as All-State groups from this year, have performed at Orchestra Hall. Hopefully, with these outside-of-the-box performances, more students will become interested in classical music.
Extracurricular activities also provide students with opportunities to play and appreciate classical music. Many high schools have orchestras or bands that student instrumentalists can participate in. There are honor bands held at colleges for high school students or groups that meet regularly outside of school such as Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS) or Minnesota Youth Symphonies (MYS). Many states, including Minnesota, have All-State music groups for students from around the state to meet each other and perform at a high level. Aside from performance, Minnesota offers a Music Listening Contest in which students work in groups of three to learn about different pieces from various musical eras and prove their knowledge in a quiz bowl setting.
Even with the heavy influence of current pop music amongst youth, classical music is gaining footing in the repertoire of youth music genres. Whether it be coming across classical music on a streaming service when trying to study or seeing a performance in concert, teens are provided with more and more opportunities to explore this genre as it becomes increasingly accessible to them.
Skeptical that classical music is about to take younger generations by storm? Perhaps I am being optimistic, but you never know — in a year, classical music could have the biggest influence on your own playlists.

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