Sunday, 9 October 2016

The battle of the x idol voice factor

Ever since the dawn of musical reality TV there has been a lot of criticism aimed at the format and to be fair, not all of it is justified.

Now I'm all for these shows if they inspire the next generation to want to become performers but there's one thing that really bugs me about them and it's rarely mentioned.

The format that everyone uses is a tournament, whittling down the less talented/fortunate/beautiful to the chosen few... (Dramatic pause)

and then down even further until there can only be...(music swells)

One Winner...(cut to advertisements)

who will then obviously go on to become a global superstar...

....or not.

But that's not my point today. 

What bothers me is that this is now the norm when it comes to showcasing talent and our kids are getting a pretty screwed up message about how performing arts really works.

I understand exactly why we run and support small scale versions of the shows. 
Hell, it's nothing new. There have always been talent quests.
But surely it's time to re-evaluate because when you think it through, talent quests are pretty flawed.

I'll admit that they encourage excellence and get bums on seats, because everyone loves to see their child perform (better than the kid from the school down the road)
But here's the problem.

We are setting our kids up to see their peers, who also love to perform, as rivals. 

AND THAT'S WRONG

Music and other performing arts are not sport. 
Sport is competitive by its very nature and there must always be winners and losers, even at junior level. Without a winner, it makes no sense. So please don't think I'm one of those wishy washy types who thinks that everyone should go through childhood without getting their feelings hurt. 

But music is different. 
Sharing isn't treason, its mutually beneficial.
Or at least it should be.

A couple of months back I drove a van load of excited pre-teens to perform at the heats for nationwide bandquest competition. We had a great day out and the band played exceptionally well. They all left that stage knowing they had played their best ever set and that the crowd had loved them.
When they didn't place they were absolutely devastated. On the journey home, they started to look for someone to blame. The judges? Other bands cheating? I'm just glad they didn't turn on each other to be honest.

But that's when it really hit home to me, as I tried to shut down the blame game, that this is not what I signed up for as a music teacher or as a musician.

It was only reinforced a couple of weeks later when I mentioned to the band that this year's local "battle of the bands" competition might hopefully be preceded by a day of collaborative workshops for all the bands involved.
"Won't the other schools learn all our secrets?"asked miss astute. 
"Yes, but we'll learn all of theirs, and then everyone will be awesome"  I said
She wasn't buying it, and fair enough. In her mind we'd already lost one competition  and she wasn't going to stand by while we gave away another one.

If you want to treat bands or any performing arts group like a sports team, then go right ahead.

But I'm out.

If you'd rather share, encourage and celebrate others' success, like what is supposed to happen in the  performing arts world, then let me know that you're in...



PostScript. The Battle of the Bands competition mentioned above has been replaced by a collaborative showcase evening for all the bands taking part in the workshop I mentioned. Full credit to Creative Sounds, Palmerston North and all the teachers of school bands in the area who made this happen.