Are Some Music Schools Better Than Others?

Music is a subjective art. Whether you are listening, playing or writing it is a matter of taste. I’ve known musicians that won’t listen to a Viennese orchestra because they dislike Viennese oboe playing. I admit, it is different because of the kind of oboe they use. It doesn’t seem to matter that this instrument would be same “oboe” that Beethoven knew.

If you ever had the opportunity to sit on an orchestra audition committee, you would see that many points of view can co-exist within one ensemble. One person will find one player acceptable while others will intensely dislike the same musician. Despite what we call a “professional” standard, when it comes down to it, this is very difficult to quantify.

In North America, some orchestras will not even take a look at players of certain pedigrees, as if all musicians from that school are all the same. Why these committees think these musicians are all identical, I can’t even begin to understand. I understand some teachers tend to turn out what I would call “clones” of themselves, but many musicians don’t play anything like their mentors. One of the nicest things said to me was by Stephen Maxym, when he said that I didn’t sound like a Sherman Walt student. He meant it as a compliment, as I sounded like I had my own concept of sound and music.

The Berlin Philharmonic has an Italian, a Scottish-Canadian, an English-American and other non-Germans playing in its orchestra. In the Royal Concertgebouw, there is a Welsh Flutist, Uruguayan Bassoonist and a Russian Oboist (trained in France). For many years, an American was their Tubist. Where these people trained is irrelevant, since only that their playing was attractive to the members of their particular orchestra.

If you want to find wonderful musicians and broaden your perspective, open your mind. Don’t assume anything about any player until you hear them play for yourself. You might be surprised.

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