Monday, February 29, 2016

A Harpist Finding Her Way to Jazz

I found this article interesting for many reasons, it is about Harpist Brandee Younger, a classically trained musician transitioning into the Jazz scene. The first point I found interesting was her inspiration for learning Jazz, a magazine article with a feature called "practical news for practical harpists," which talked about an influential jazz harpist Dorothy Ashby. I couldn't help but wonder if they were somehow recommending that these musicians start learning jazz style music because it is somehow more practical than than playing classical harp music.
The next part of the article talks about the conservatory she went to, The Hartt School, and how she didn't feel that she belonged there for two main reason, the fact that she did not go to an arts high school and that she was the only black musician for her instrument. At this point I was reminded of our talks about approachability and accessibility in classical music. Basically because she felt so separated from her peers she lost interest in classical music and found jazz more inviting and exciting. I don't think there is any problem with musicians focusing more on a jazz style than a typical classical style, I actually think that using a harp in jazz music sounds like a really awesome idea,  I just hope that for the future of classical music we as musicians can be relatable to all different kinds of people from all different backgrounds. If we seem snooty or un-accepting then there will be no future of classical music as it will seem like it is only for the elite.
Brandee Younger seems to have definitely built a solid reputation for herself and loves what she does, so I am really glad that she wasn't so put off by music that she gave up on it entirely, I just wonder if she would have gotten into that genre if she had felt more like she "belonged" in the classical world.