Is Classical Music really creative?
Imagine for a moment a professional dancer at the disco. He will most likely stand out at dancing because he has worked on his coordination and movements for years. He knows perfectly how to express himself with his body and probably has a bigger palette of moves than people who don’t dedicate as much time as him on it. It’s hard for me to imagine that he will paralyze because there is no specific choreography for that song and then he is not able to come up with something created on the spot.
Let’s get now a painter. We could summarize the work of a painter as a person who takes a blank canvas and paints something on it. A person that creates something from nothing. He will have a technique and a mastery of brushes, learned over the years, that will allow him to express his ideas in a way that is more or less meaningful or beautiful. But always creating something, more or less original and completely new.
And it goes the same with literature, architecture, sculpture, and practically all forms of art. All these examples have one thing in common. They are people who have learned a technique and have acquired a specific language for years. They are capable, not only of reproducing it in a specific way, but they are capable of creating from it freely. Even science is highly creative in the way that they usually have to come up with new concepts, experiments, approaches, technologies… They are focusing their lives on solving a specific problem, which requires a lot of creativity in many cases.
Now let’s look at classical music. The way in which classical music is taught, in general, consists of taking a song or work and learning it perfectly. Control the dynamics, achieve technical mastery over it, and reproduce it in the most accurate way possible. The teacher is in charge of correcting the student and polishing the existing imperfections and all the problems that arise throughout their learning.
In many ways, this way of learning is excellent and, in a well-conducted way, it can be rewarding and give the person superior coordination, depth in the person, and expression of feelings. If you can get through years of basic training, playing a high-caliber piece is tremendously satisfying and addictive.
Even so, this is not something negative in itself. What I think is negative and sad is not mastering an art in its entirety. Classical music doesn’t normally cover all its possibilities, and when they try to do it it’s normally too late. Most students block that most creative part right when they start as kids and consequently remain ‘atrophied’ forever. In many cases, a kind of rejection is even generated and prevails the thought that they were not born for that or that they are incapable. Obviously, that is not true, and although everyone has their own capabilities and limitations, everyone would be able to create or communicate with that language.
As a result of that, I think that the average classical musician is never fully passionate about what he does. I observed that many musicians see music as a profession, but not as a passion or hobby too. And I find it kind of sad because they are missing an entire dimension. I don’t think there is something more rewarding than creating your own music, being able to understand the basic harmonies and use them in any situation, and being able to have fun creating on your instrument…