An editorial comment… (Jerry Young, Editor)
If you haven’t yet read the article in this issue of the Journal by Harvey Phillips, please do so now, and then continue reading this editorial comment. All of the things that Mr. Phillips included in his article are things that I have heard him say many times over the years. I asked him to put his thoughts into print several months ago, not knowing how timely they would be in this particular issue of the Journal.
I feel I must comment upon the need to renew our commitment to portraying ourselves and our instruments to both the musically astute public and (particularly) the musically uninitiated public as musicians deserving of the same respect afforded to any other musical artists or instruments. To quote directly
from the introduction to Mr. Phillips article: “It is time to realize that each of us represents to the world at large all others who play our instruments. Individual attitudes, manners (or lack of manners), slanderous statements, and personal behavior have helped influence the perceptions of our colleagues and the public audience; we must improve our image in both areas.”
At several recent international events, the notion of using a tuba as a substitute for a discus or javelin has taken hold as a recreational event. I don’t deny that this kind of activity doesn’t attract a lot of public and media attention. But is it attention that helps our cause? Does this type of activity, initiated from within our own ranks, breed respect or convey any kind of positive impetus for what we do musicallyeither as professional musicians or recreational musicians? Is low brow attention better than no attention at all? I don’t believe that it is. Yes, there are individuals who, as part of their performances, destroy pianos and guitars but does anyone take those “artists” seriously? I know of few (if any) people who do. The standard reactions to such behavior range from laughter to head shaking to unbridled contempt. Yet, you can bet that the media will make (and has made) this kind of spectacle front page heads and complain and weep because we have to struggle to validate ourselves as legitimate musicians worthy of the same respect as the finest pianists, violinists, or flutists. I see no mystery in this at all.
As a large number of people in both our amateur and professional ranks know me fairly well, it is pretty well known that I am far from a quiet, retiring, non fun loving around who enjoy good times and camaraderie more than I do. I would simply
choose not to have my fun at the expense of the instrument that gives voice to my art, nor at the expense of my friends around the world, professionals and amateurs, wo the composers who are helping us to better our musical future.) I echo Mr. Phillips’ sentiments so eloquently expressed in the conclusion of his article. I want to be very clear that I am not indicting any individual or group of individuals with these comments. I am certain that there is not anyone among us who would purposely set out to damage what we have been trying to build for nearly thirty years through this organization. I am suggesting that before another such event takes place that we carefully consider what we are accomplishing are we improving our lot as musicians and the public’s concept of the instruments we play or setting our entire part of the musical enterprise back in all respects? I think the answer is reasonably clear, and so should be our actions.