As a music teacher I often get asked by students, “Sir, what music do you like best?”
This is a surprisingly hard question and it took me a while to come up with an answer I am happy with. You see, for young people musical taste is often about more than the music: it’s about identity, friendship groups, fashion, outlook on life and more. In this context the conclusions that my students might draw from my answer relate to more than just what music I like.
It’s not just young people who pigeon hole music either. I’ve come across many adult musical snobs who dismiss particular styles, instruments or composers. From a listening point of view I have no real problem with this but as a performer you can learn from every musical performance opportunity.
I’ve been privileged to have been involved in performing a wide variety of music and everything I do makes me a better musician. That could be having a go at a Beethoven piano concerto, playing for a musical or simply accompanying a song I don’t know.
Recreating styles, learning new combinations of chords and melody, rhythmic nuances and different “feels”, playing different roles in a group, creating music through workshops or improvisation or slavishly sticking to the score – all learning opportunities. You never stop learning about music. So don’t be a musical snob. Embrace every piece, style and performance opportunity and use it all to make you a better musician.
And what music do I like best? I like good music. And there are examples of good music in all styles, genres and contexts.