Trumpeter · Educator · Author

My Love-Hate Relationship with iTunes and YouTube

I love Itunes and youtube.  Sorta.  I think they are both great.   I love that I can carry my little ipod and have my entire CD collection on one small device.  It's great how I can make a playlists and make CD's for students. I love how easy it is for me to listen to a concert that I have downloaded and listen to it as I walk the dog or do the dishes. On youtube I love how I can see tons of videos of great players like Timofei Dokshizer and Maurice Andre that I was never able to see before the existence of youtube.  I have see concerts of all types, free of charge, anytime I want.

So why the hate?

Because they are easy to access.  And because they are easy to access we, and especially students, take them for granted.  Thanks to Itunes the trip to Tower Records to find the latest release, or a hidden gem is gone.  So are the little things like how really cool cover art or a great photo give some kind of mystique to the recording you are listening to.  As to the latter point I can think of a great picture on the album cover of Richard Strauss's Alpine Symphony with Herbert Von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic of the sunrise behind the snowy Alps or the painting of the siege of Leningrad on the cover of the great Leonard Bernstein/Chicago Symphony Orchestra recording of Shostakovich Symphonies 1 and 7. Both of these album covers gave me a firm extra musical idea that made the recording even more meaningful.
When I used to take a long trip I would carefully pick a few CD's to listen to.  Because I could only take so many I would listen to the same recordings over and over.  This repetition firmly put the sounds from these recordings in my head.  With the Ipod I am less likely to listen with as much repetition because I have so many choices.
Also listening is less of an event.  We pay less attention to what we listen to because it is so easy to have music constantly playing.  Of course live music will always be the best way to absorb music but in the age of CD's, cassettes and records it took more effort to change what you were listening to.  Now with the Ipod just scroll with your fingers and you have made a switch. 
And youtube? When I ask a student to listen to a particular piece they are more likely to find what the youtube search engine comes up with rather than the ensemble or soloist I am trying to get them to listen to.  The importance of the quality of the performance and the quality of the performer becomes less important.  I have even had students, after some small form of the Spanish Inquisition, confess that they listened to some other students senior recital at Middle of Nowhere Music Technical College as their reference for a piece.  Did this happen with CD's before?  Of course it did.  But not as much.  Bad recordings were a bit harder to find in comparison to the amount that you can now easily find on the web. 

Love them or hate them Itunes and Youtube are here for good.  And as soon as I finish this post I am downloading something.....because it's easy.