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jazzjeppe's avatar

Why don't young people generally like classical and jazz music?

Asked by jazzjeppe (2598points) November 21st, 2010

I used to teach music earlier but thank gawd, I’m not doing that anymore. Each time I tried to introduce other music than mainstream and hitlist music the kids’ reactions honestly pierced a huge hole in my heart and I couldn’t go on teaching music. I tried to make theme appreciate all kinds of music telling them that appreciating isn’t the same thing as liking. I mean, making music is art and skill and I appreciate anyone doing it, even if I wouldn’t run the music shop to get their latest album. But these teenagers…arrrrgh! It makes me sad to hear them say that one kind of music is gay, that kind of music is retarded and another kind of music is terrible – why can’t they just see music as…well, music? You don’t have to like all music, but you can surely see it as music, a handicraft, a piece of art, something to respect?

If I play a piece of Mozart or Benny Goodman, 99% of them would lie on the floor screaming in pain…kinda… What’s with that? Why are they so…so narrow-minded!

I’ll never go back to teaching music again :(

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32 Answers

deni's avatar

who wants to be different? it’s harder to grind on your boyfriend to. ;)

Mikewlf337's avatar

I respected classical musical music when I was in high school. I didn’t own any albums. Jazz is to be respected even though I am not a fan. I have a friend who learned to write classical music and compose when he was maybe 13.

muppetish's avatar

I went on a massive rant a few months about this topic (with an emphasis on jazz as I have met far more people who can at least name one or two classical musicians whom they will tolerate listening to on occasion.) The consensus from the pool I sampled was that the music is boring. Boring?! Jazz is anything but boring! It broke my heart (and I am quite young and developed a taste for the sound through animated shows, so…)

It’s not just teenagers, though. I rarely find young adults who can even name a jazz musician. Davis? The Duke? Coltrane? Brubeck? Please tell me you have at least of Satchmo?

I overheard a conversation between two of my classmates last spring and one gentleman mentioned Charles Mingus. I swear in that moment I was completely in love with him. Had I not been entirely too embarrassed for eavesdropping, I would have screamed, “I love “Goodbye Porkpie Hat” and “Better Git It In Your Soul”! What’s your favourite?”

People like what they like, I guess.

ucme's avatar

Horses for courses, as my dear old granny used to say…..or did I just make it up? :¬)

cockswain's avatar

Too complicated for the average ADD kid.

DominicX's avatar

I’ve liked classical music since I was 5. My parents introduced me to it at a young age it’s been my favorite genre of music ever since. And I listen to all kinds of music, from showtunes to Lady Gaga and Lil Wayne and from Jean-Baptiste Lully to Dmitri Shostakovich.

My guess is that young people view genres like classical and jazz as “old” and “boring”. They want “relevant” music like alternative rock and mainstream pop.

But like I’ve always told people, if you think classical music is “boring”, you haven’t heard much classical music. Classical is a difficult genre to introduce to someone there over 400 years of and it and several distinct “periods” within it that can be very different from each other.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

If I would’ve had you as a music teacher,I am sure I would know how to play an instrument!
I am the only one in my family who doesn’t play.—I do torture people with harmonica and kazoo though—XD
Here is one for you :)

iamthemob's avatar

I’m with @muppetish on the point that it’s not just young people. Popular music is popular for a reason – it’s easily accessible, simple to consume, and just fun most of the time. As you increase the complexity, it requires an increased depth of knowledge about the subject in order to begin appreciating it in the case of most anything – but particularly when it comes to something so subjective as art.

Jazz is an art form that was invented in the U.S. It was a completely new model for playing and listening to music. It’s original because it’s totally different from most other forms. That makes it something that’s going to appeal to a niche audience to begin with. Throw in the fact that it’s pretty complex, and you’re going to get resistance from people in general – and children throughout history.

marinelife's avatar

I recently heard about a young man who for his bar mitzvah named each table after a jazz musician. He had a Coltrane table and a Miles Davis table.

Do you ever listen to From the Top on NPR? It is all young people performing classical music.

I think you have just had bad luck with the kids that you taught.

jaytkay's avatar

@marinelife I think the cases you cite are rare. And I played in school and regional orchestras as a teen.

wundayatta's avatar

I think this is a complex subject. Part of it is that kids are probably more interested in learning instruments from the music they know. Learning an instrument helps you understand the music. Part of it is that classical and jazz are very complex, so they are hard to understand. Part of it is establishing an identity separate from your parents generation. There’s more, but if I don’t watch out, I’ll be writing a dissertation.

BarnacleBill's avatar

When I was in high school “back in the day” our Humanities teacher had us listen to a recording of PDQ Bach to understand the interrelationship between composition and instrumentation. It was like lightbulbs going off for the whole class. Listening to classical music became a breeze after that.

Stuff similar to this or this or this makes the transition easy.

Seelix's avatar

I’m not much of a classical music fan, though I can appreciate its beauty. I do like jazz, though I’m not a fan inasmuch as I don’t seek it out. I think a large part of younger people’s resistance to these kinds of music is due to peer pressure. If you don’t listen to the top 40, you’re weird and uncool.

I just wish that more people would listen to real music, by which I mean music played by actual instruments.

Zaku's avatar

Hmm, I have the opposite problem, having trouble appreciating a lot of pop music and thinking it is “gay, retarded and terrible.”

I think all forms of music take some time, patience, sensitivity and openness to learn to hear and appreciate. Most kids are mainly raised by media industries armed with multimillion-dollar budgets and decades of psychological propaganda research. And teenage American culture is highly shaming and tied up with egos and self-images and insecurities.

And, since the pop crap they get told to like is largely gay, retarded and terrible, they’re projecting.


Andreas's avatar

@BarnacleBill Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

@jazzjeppe One thing to remember is this: All music is related to all other music, whether by melody, harmony, beat, rhythm, or any other aspect.

The early Rock ‘n’ Rollers “borrowed” from classical music all the time. They simple sped up the playing or varied the odd note/chord.

Talking blues and spoken word songs are older than Rap.

Woody Guthrie (folk genre, slightly OT) was considered a thorn in the sides of the establishment and was a big influence on Bob Dylan.

The classical musicians of the 1700’s and 1800’s were the equivalent or rock/pop stars today.

If you want to get through to kids anywhere because the world we live in is basically the same in Australia as the US, for example it’s necessary for them to know this first so they have something to relate to. Hitting them with the music without this background information will always get rejection.

Berserker's avatar

Probably because they prefer music that which they believe pertains to them, something they can relate to. Teenagehood is a chaotic period, where one is constantly seeking approval, answers and a place to fit in.
As asinine as some pop and mainstream can be, this provides some feel of comfort for them, as it is aimed at them in particular.

Supacase's avatar

I can appreciate both kinds of music. I actually like quite a bit of classical music and some well-known jazz. I have found that jazz I am unfamiliar with sounds like a mish-mash of noise and gives me a headache after a while. I have always assumed it is because I don’t know enough about music to understand how all of the sounds somehow work together.

YARNLADY's avatar

I think some of it may depend on what they are used to hearing. My sons and grandsons have been exposed to classical and jazz all their lives, and they don’t really like the contemporary music their peers are listening to. It may be of interest to note that my grandsons friends seem to agree with them.

charliecompany34's avatar

exposure. the answer is exposure. if a young child hears sophisticated music genres in his early years, he/she will appreciate it later on. i was raised in a musically inclined family. dad, aunts and uncles would hum complex melodies and whistle riffs all the time while the music played. i watched and i listened. now i do the same with my kids and they can name whatever type of music i’m listening to AND appreciate it. when children are exposed to the arts at early ages, they will pick up on it.

iamthemob's avatar

@Zaku – Sorry, but I have to:

“gay, retarded and terrible.”

Really? Gay? And retarded? I know you’re better than that. ;-)

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Because it’s what their parents listen to, and by extension, force the kids to listen to. Same deal as making them read books in school – it’ll ruin Jane Eyer for them. (Not that I’m saying we shouldn’t make them read it, anyway…)
ETA: Also, the emotion in both is more nuanced and much less in-your-face than, say, Slipknot. When you can’t stop screaming at the top of your lungs, you probably don’t have the energy to search for the soul in Ella’s work.

DerangedSpaceMonkey's avatar

I think it’s because we have more to chose from to listen to than the previous generation, so just by statistics we have less of a chance of liking it. Plus compared to Rock, Hip-hop, Country, etc. there are not as many classical stations, therefore we are not as exposed to it. And most importantly because we have better taste in music! LOL

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@DerangedSpaceMonkey Yeah, teens and their Marilyn Manson and Justin Beiber have soooooo much better taste than those who like Duke Ellington or Strauss!~

DerangedSpaceMonkey's avatar

@papayalily I don’t know if that’s sarcasm or not. But for the record I do like Marilyn Manson but I wish Justin Beiber would go to one of his (Marilyn Manson’s) concerts and get stomped to death in the mosh pit.

Also even though I don’t like classical music but I do enjoy Nirvana, Manson and Zombie, I was trying to be humorous, not offensive.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@DerangedSpaceMonkey Sarcasm. I enjoy Zombie myself, but seeing as how jazz and classical have both been around for awhile, I’m not sure facts are on the side of bad taste for them.

DerangedSpaceMonkey's avatar

@papayalily Well like I said even though I don’t enjoy classical myself, I wish just being silly. Unfortunately I seem to have struck a sore spot with you.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@DerangedSpaceMonkey No, it’s just hard to tell tone over the internet, so I can’t tell if your joking or not.

DerangedSpaceMonkey's avatar

@papayalily Well now that we’ve got that cleared up…Have a nice day!

Zaku's avatar

@iamthemob I was being facetious and parroting @jazzlejebbe’s students (giving them backzies, because after all, I am rubber and they are glue, and anything they say bounces of me and stink on dem foolz), but I was a kid once too, and my reactions to music often come from then. And, well, for example, Justin Bieber, to my childish music critic, is very “gay, retarded, and terrible”! ;-P

iamthemob's avatar

@Zaku – I understood, or at least assumed, that’s what was being done. Of course, not everyone reading it would. So, I had to call it out. ;-) No hard feelings – but after having gone through high school hearing everything bad called gay, it stings regardless of the intent behind it.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

People like what they’re used to, and despite having distant roots in jazz and classical, pop music doesn’t click with classical for lack of a well known 4-beat (on a rock drum kit) and jazz doesn’t conform to… well much at all that “young people” are used to hearing.
Also, I think it takes about 5 listens to a new style before I start to like it. On average… and I’m a quick study. If you want to experiment… pick a genre you dislike and give in a go for a couple days… just in the background. That’s a mind expanding experiment.

Zaku's avatar

@iamthemob Yeah, the overloaded meanings on the word “gay” are dreadful, and most so for people who end up identifying themselves with it and having to deal with the collapsed multiple meanings. When my 9-year-old voice calls Justin Bieber’s music and persona “gay”, I’m not talking about homosexuality, but about a certain flavour of annoying lameness. Unfortunately there is a huge collapse of meaning that smears that together with homosexuality, and helps reinforce homophobic thinking.

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