Excellent series… from 2013.. just a few years ago… but still present!?
… And students — for the most part — aren’t encouraged to be creative. Instead, they’re expected to do what their teachers expect. (I’m talking about instrumental and vocal teachers, studio faculty, as they’re called. Classroom faculty, who teach academic courses, would tend to have rules of their own.) Some teachers, of course, invite personal expression, and — as in one memorable story one Juilliard student told about her own teacher — get excited about student performances that jump way out of any normal box.
But most , it’s safe to say, aren’t like that. So the students (as I heard from the ones I was talking to, and have heard many times at Juilliard) know that they’re better off being cautious. They often need to be cautious with their teachers, and certainly have to be their school juries (where they’re judged by a group of faculty members), when they audition for orchestra jobs, and when they enter competitions. Just about everyone in classical music knows that competitions favor people who don’t take many chances. Because if you do something unique, there’s always a chance that one of the judges won’t like it, and then you have no chance of winning.
So this is one problem that music schools have, the first I’ll stress in this series of posts. Music schools don’t encourage creativity. Their administrations don’t fly a flag that says, “Let’s see what new things our students can do.” I’m not saying that their teaching might not be on a high level, but mostly it’s on a high level of doing what the rest of the classical music world does, making music the way your teachers, your chamber music coaches, and the conductors you play for expect it to be made.