Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

Cultural Lessons: Music

Posted by chinesecanuck on April 30, 2008

I’d like to open this topic up for discussion:  Why DO YOU THINK that it’s considered very “normal” and “Asian” for second generation kids of Asian descent to take western classical (using the generic term of “classical” here, not the classical period) music lessons while stereotypically, kids of other cultures who do so are “white-washed”?  I don’t have stats, but I have heard that Julliard and Berklee have lots of students of Asian descent, both American and foreign.   I’ve said in previous posts that it’s class-related.  Would you agree with me?  Would you see more non-Asian students at these schools if more came from middle class families?  What about white kids?  In my experience, white kids who were very serious about music (classical music, not the garage band type) and knew how to read music well in junior high were generally of Eastern European descent.  Usually no more than third generation.  (This was a problem when it came to middle school level instrumental music.  They usually started you from scratch, so it was very discouraging for at least 25% of the students.  While we might not know how to PLAY the instruments we picked up, we already knew how to read and often were frustrated at the slow pace.)  Is classical music just not a priority?  Even if the families are of a similar social class?  I would think that the ability to play piano or violin would be something parents are proud of.  Classical music is more “international” than most sports (other than soccer, anyway), I think.

Would you like your kids to take classical music lessons?

***NOTE:  What I’d LIKE to see are more prominent Asian composers (not music/song writers who do pop…NOT THE SAME THING)…lots of Asian music students (in Asia, anyway), just copy what they hear, making their music more mechanical-sounding…creativity isn’t important here, just as long as you play the right notes with decent expression, you’re okay…..having been trained in piano and voice, mostly be teachers of Eastern European descent, I’ve learned that it’s a big NO-NO.

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One Response to “Cultural Lessons: Music”

  1. I really don’t know what the deal is with East Asians and classical music. Even Koreans in Korea are very classically-inclined. I think it’s both class and culture.

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