continue playing; the value and work of classical musicians.

Shouldn’t classical music have positive effects on mental health? Yes – classical music has been found to improve mood and cognitive function and reduce anxiety, depression and stress. A study published in psychology of music even found that just listening to classical music lowers blood pressure and helps with pain management, to the point of speeding recovery for patients after surgery. The music itself is clearly not the problem.

So what then?

The plethora of factors boils down to two main reasons; the very stressful nature of the work and the serious lack of value and understanding from society.

It might not be obvious what’s so stressful about playing only classical music – but the job is much more than just its description. When a musician finds himself in one of the few diminishing orchestra jobs, he faces long practice and rehearsal hours, a competitive and cutthroat hierarchy, and meager pay. However, most are freelance, which means they go to extreme lengths to find work, compete with many other musicians, and are constantly looking for last-minute bookings. Most people have contracts, musicians have text messages; It’s perfectly normal to get a message at 10pm asking them to play in a concert the next day, which is still expected to be there and give a quality performance, sometimes without a rehearsal and sometimes with music that they see for the first time on stage. In addition, there is a risk of refusing such bookings, since this will damage the reputation and the musician will lose this source of work. Most of the work takes place in the evenings and weekends as that’s usually when things like concerts are happening, but during the day there’s still administration, client acquisition and practice. That means long hours and sacrificing personal time. Making a living is incredibly difficult, and the unpredictability of the job means that if musicians are expected to produce quality performance time and time again on such short notice, an extremely high level of practice must be maintained at all times. Especially since the British classical music industry is at an exceptionally high level. All of this before you even get on stage!

Despite this, many are still unaware of the intensity of the stress and do not appreciate the exertion it takes to be a classical musician in the UK.

Few professions require the rigorous training that classical musicians need, starting young. They require intricate theory, years of practice and intense skill making them the best trained professionals, and yet this is often dismissed and undermined by the general public. People often mistake classical musicians for day jobs because they don’t equate their careers with conventional employment. This often takes the form of condescending and derogatory remarks and expectations of demeaningly cheap services because the job is just “fun” as opposed to the income that pays bills and puts food on the table. Persistent belittling and demoralizing behavior can be thought of as exhausting and discouraging – it is hardly indescribable that they sometimes feel down.

“One thing you have to get used to is knowing your worth, despite people, pay or conditions that are constantly trying to undermine it.” – Emily Mitchell, a Sussex cellist with a master’s and postgraduate degree from the Royal Academy of Music.

The heavy workload, antisocial and sporadic work hours, inability to plan, difficulty making a living, and poor conditions, topped with demeaning comments, plausibly pile up the mood.

So why bother? What is the use of classical music when the appreciation is declining and conditions are poor? Although it may seem like a dying art, classical music is the foundation of our musical culture, fueling tourism, contributing to the nation’s economy and reputation, enriching the spirit, and triggering compound responses in human physiology. From the mourning to the sublime, classical music conveys what cannot be expressed in words; It’s a fuel that ignites passion and excitement, evokes intellect and depth, and connects people to their innermost emotions, and musicians are the vehicles that deliver such an important medium. From the shows you watch on Netflix to the shows you watch in the West End, from weddings to funerals, from anniversaries to coronations, from church services to concerts, from the world famous Proms to the orchestral musicians in many pop songs. Classical musicians provide the priceless channel through which we express who we are and the important moments in our lives. continue playing; the value and work of classical musicians.

Fry Electronics Team

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