Classical vs. Contemporary Music Training
April 15, 2022

Contemporary music is what most people listen to every day. It covers genres like Pop, R&B, Jazz, Metal, and Rock. On the other hand, classical music is a profoundly traditional type of music rooted in longstanding western musical principles. Parents are often undecided on which to get their children involved. The debate has been longstanding, but none seem to be better than the other; they are just different. It might be tricky to decide on which to enroll your child in, but here are some comparisons that might help.

1. Popularity

In popularity, contemporary music gets the nod, and it is not close. The radio, streaming apps, and live performances are saturated with contemporary music. Classical music often comes off as bougie and sometimes elitist. Its traditional nature means that not as many people are exposed to it. So, if your goals are to make music for a lot of people and fame, chances are you won’t become the next Mozart. Contemporary music would be what you want to look into.

2. Theoretical depth

Classical music is famously more thorough when it comes to music theory. There’s a lot of focus on deep musical concepts and their applications. Sheet music and sight-reading are sacrosanct for classical musicians. Besides the theory, classical musicians are also immersed in the idea of perfect playing techniques for musical instruments. None of these are to say that contemporary music is in any way shallow. Contemporary musicians also embrace music theory and have these skills in their arsenal. Classical music just goes further because of its traditional nature and ties to western music.

3. Creative freedom

Contemporary music is not rigid like its classical counterparts and encourages playing by ear. While classical musicians might have a lot of tools, they are often restricted compositionally by the need to learn and perform music that has been passed down from generations. Contemporary music, however, is the home of improvisation. Contemporary musicians use their skills to create and implement ideas across genres. A good example is jazz music, where new concepts evolve daily, and improvised solos are commonplace.

4. Performing opportunities

There are many more contemporary musicians than classical musicians, and it is easy to see why. It is a factor of demand and supply. Classical musicians mostly perform in operas, orchestras, symphonies, and marching bands. Contemporary musicians are just about everywhere. There’s a catch, though. Classical musicians can usually fit in in contemporary settings, but contemporary musicians would struggle in classical environments.

There are a few takeaways. The child’s interest should always be taken into consideration as it is not your choice to make. Also, the goals of music education should guide the decision-making. Classical musicians would usually be excellent music readers, have impeccable techniques, understand and appreciate classical music history, and be great theoreticians. Contemporary musicians are more likely to form bands, be great at playing any music by ear, know how to improvise, and be useful in many musical settings. No one type is better than the other.