Is music still a topic?

The Netherlands. He sings all day and in tune. He also plays the piano quite well. I think I should visit some schools with him and see what happens. I’ve the network since I’ve studied music myself (but work in IT).

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I cannot for the life of me see how we measure the interest of young people by lack of record stores for starters. That shows the weak market position of physical media and the influence of online shopping. Nothing else really. The demographic information on who buys what is plentifully available and it shows unequivocally that young people, despite having lots of other things competing for their interest, still buy music. They may not buy it the way I did but so what? That was the case for the peak purchase period of the 1960s when compared to previous decades. They may not listen to it on audiophile kit but so what? Overwhelmingly people never did.

Similarly it’s a bit weird measuring interest in playing musical instruments by the decline in funding for that teaching within the education system. The latter is a relatively recent thing having largely scaled up only from the 18th century onwards. The reality is that most people learn instruments from peers, teachers, family etc. That remains the case. They may not learn the instruments you want them to but it’s still musical instruments and it’s still music.

Music and learning to play music are alive and kicking. Nothing kills the love for that faster than people trying to define what ought to be the case.

My daughter (16) loves music of all genres and ages. She sings, sang at Magdalen College Chapel the other day in Latin as part of a choir, is rehearsing ‘Oklahoma’, streams off Spotify, plays her music through a smart speaker, wants to snaffle my Rega and go to record shops and share that experience with her friends and is as likely to buy Sammie Davis Jr as she is anything current. She likes to fall asleep to Ludovico Einaudi, sometimes.

My son (18) streams through headphones. He doesn’t tell me what he listens too, that’s personal, but his friends like CCR and King Crimson and it seems they got that hook from him. He also plays the piano really well and I think it’s helped him with his studies more broadly, especially maths. He was also teaching himself guitar but he’s so busy, that’s on hold.


That’s a young but good age to start with that sort of thing - it’s when most English Cathedral/College choir schools look to start their choristers.

We didn’t live near a cathedral when our children were the right age, but were blessed with a very good parish church choir and mainstream school with excellent music in just the right place when they were just the right age. Both are now (aged 20 and 18) very keen singers. Coming from a non-musical family, that gives me huge joy.

Happy to talk outside the forum about your options (I know people who can help and advise. Richard can put us in touch.


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Most of my friends are music listeners as are my family and actively seek it out to varying degrees. The exception I would say is my mum, she enjoys it when it is put on and is remarkably knowledgeable about it, but I have never known her to turn a radio on to listen to music let alone put on a record etc.

Two of my nieces who have just hit 30 have been ardent gig-goers and festival-goers and listen to music at home on Sonos-level stuff. My teen nieces are getting into music more now but listen to most of it on their phones with earbuds.

A friend’s daughter though, is into her vinyl and I gave her my old lite so she could have a streamer in her system. She loves it and has even been known to dip into Dad’s core and the family Qobuz account now. Most of my friends’ children seem content with phones and Spotify or similar.

When I think back to when I was a teen in the 70s I would say most teens were into music on the radio, some bought the occasional record then there were the few like me who bought a fair amount and got their first hi-fi rather than listened to a Dansette or cheap music centre.

I think this debate about whether young people are into music keeps coming back, with some saying music listening is on the way out. Then we have another revival in interest in recorded music and people say how surprising it is that people are listening to or buying music again, bet it as downloads or physical media or streaming services. Both of these phases in the cyclical nature of music being fashionable generate lots of column inches that support the writer’s stance and may or may not have much connection to the reality of what is happening out in the world. Sadly what is still true is that most musicians are still getting poorly paid for what they create.


Funnily enough, I hated music at school.
Most often the music teachers looked very old fashioned. Smelt of fusty old moth balls and the ladies had long bearded whiskers and smelly breath.
Not a very good representation for me at an early age.

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I have never understood how tiny moths have such big balls.

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I’m surprised that you are in your 30s, as you write like a 60 year old! I’d suggest there is a touch of snobbery in what you write. Just because you buy CDs and have a hifi means nothing. Other people who just wander around listening on their earbuds may get far far more satisfaction from their music as you do. You don’t need to spend thousands in order to appreciate and explore music, and arguably those who don’t need or want to, are simply cannot be bothered, are in many ways very fortunate. They may not be able to hear Mark Knopler picking his nose during the quiet bits, but so what?

There are many art forms out there; paintings of all sorts, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, literature, poetry, film, all sorts. Is music so special? Do people who spend all their time reading poetry look down on those who don’t? I’d hope not.

When I was young there were seven places selling records in the town where are lived. Now there is one, selling secondhand stuff. I get all my music as downloads. I don’t need music shops. Most people are like that now, so it’s no surprise there are fewer shops. Times change.


To me music is an incredibly personal thing. I don’t much enjoy discussing it, because I couldn’t care less about what it means to anyone else or what they like and dislike.

As for ‘culture’ - I can’t see any link with music. Which is more cultured, The Sex Pistols or JS Bach? It just depends on what you like. I’m not a fan of either, but I’d sooner sit through a Sex Pistols concert than a Bach recital.

Culture has nothing to do with art. It’s just snobbery. The kind of snobbery that says that The Godfather is a more worthwhile film than Carry on Camping or Confessiona of a Window Cleaner. I’d sooner watch either of the latter.


There was when I was a teenager/young man in the 1960s/70s: there wasnt gaming, and watching movies was in a cinema (but there were many cinemas) otherwise really much the same as now, and at least we were free from the curse of antisocial media.

Music did seem to be a core interest for us, it does seem far more than for young people today. But it is unsurprising to me, being, I think, simply to the state of music evolution at the time: “Pop” music was young, rock and prog-rock in particular, but also other genres, were just springing to life - and what life that was! Popular culture built around it, it was a Big Thing. Today its all been done before, artists struggle to find something original, and when they do it is often discordant or cacaphonic, with young people playing it because it is “their music” but it has no soul, no emotion.

One of my sons is late 20s, the other early 30s. The older plays music virtually continuously on his earbuds. The younger listens some of the time, but nowhere near continuously. I think both has some favourite bands from the past 20 years, with sone commonality between them, and neither are into mainstream “pop”. Interestingly, both like quite a bit of music from my generation, with both particularly liking the Beatles, and both have a more eclectic musical taste than mine. Both have musical talent, but only the younger plays an instrument regularly. The younger frequently goes to pubs/clubs where small local bands play, or where people just get out musical instruments and jam together.

For my part, music has always been a vital part of my life, with hifi the logical means of maximising enjoyment of recorded music. I have several musical instruments, on which I can pick out a tune, and one of my promises to myself is to learn to play them properly when I retire. Unfortunately since retiring I seem to have been busier than before, with no time as yet…

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It’s interesting and very surprising that you feel that way. Whenever I have visited Italy I have been struck by the wealth of music that I have stumbled across, which is one of the reasons I love going. Maybe not “pop” music, about which I know nothing, but it seems so many places have small opera productions, very accessible in terms of cost - and by doing without lavish productions people in Britain are more used to in opera houses, they are more immediate and maybe even more culturally accessible. And everywhere there seem to be busking musicians playing both classical music and things like the blues. I think Italy is rich in music, being learnt and performed by people enjoying it, if maybe not so much by people to inane pop world. If only Britain was like that!

Indeed. We spent a very memorable evening eating on the patio of the Dei Duchi hotel in Spoleto, while listening to a string quartet playing in the amphitheatre next door. Free music and free food, because my Italian then brother in law managed the hotel. The climate helps of course, we’ve listened to jazz outdoors at midnight while eating ice cream, and all sorts.

A touch of snobbery there HH !!


Yes, it is.

According to a video I recently posted by Andrew Huberman on another thread, research shows that the production and enjoyment of music may pre-date spoken language in human cultural development.

Also, according to the video, research shows that neurons in key areas of our brains resonate at very high frequencies that are tuned to the sounds of music in a way that is simply not true of the sensation of seeing a rainbow or a painting or a play.

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I do recommend searching for and listening to Flanders and Swann’s A Song of Reproduction. Even for a piece written 64 years ago they gently but so cleverly nail it.


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@CalamityJack how nice to hear that your daughter and son really are into music.

@paulbysea nice to hear that many people around you are interested in music.

@TOBYJUG I had a decent music teacher, I’ve been lucky. My music teacher introduced me to the Buena Vista Social Club.

@Innocent_Bystander I can only agree on this, even though there are some great exceptions. Music from your generation was very nice, no wonder why your sons prefer it (I tend to prefer older music too).

I can easily relate to this:

I’m sure you are right when you refer to opera. In Italy we have a rich and strong tradition as far as I know, however it’s not common for young people to listen to it, they usually hate it (at least all the people I know). On average opera is far from being interesting to most people here. It’s mostly foreigners to attend to these events, at least that’s my experience. I personally don’t enjoy opera, it’s not my genre (I prefer jazz and other genres).

@JimDog I agree, music is special indeed. There are many studies that found out how important music is for the brain development.

No offence intended, but this combination of posts made me chuckle.

HH’s post reminded me forcefully of the commentary that used to accompamy those cheap travelogue support films at the cinema. Those of a certain age will know what I’m talking about.

That may be the case with young people generally, however in some of the productions I’ve seen many of the performers have been quite young. As for liking opera, I didn’t when I heard my parents listen on the radio as a kid. But I did like some of the music I heard without singing. I didn’t give opera a proper try until I was about 40, when I discovered love for it - but only some opera, and only in its entirity not individual arias out of context. (But I dislike jazz!)

That’s correct, there are some very young performers around. It’s not opera, but I was thinking about Il Volo, the group seem to be very famous abroad (less here), they are all young and all tenors.
I’m quite sure that opera won’t really get under my skin, but never say never, things can always change, right? Maybe you’ll enjoy jazz at some point, who knows! Luckily there are many different music genres.

And Anna Lapwood is rapidly becoming a modern day one. Can’t believe she’s still only 28 - quite amazing what she has done and achieved in such a short time.