Cremona Media Lounge Members: Patrick Jovell (Pianostreet.com, Sweden)

Here we meet another member of the Cremona Musica Media Lounge: Patrick Jovell, Swedish renown piano teacher and co-editor at pianostreet.com, one of the leading piano blogs, where he also manages the social media section. Patrick Jovell is a perfect example of a musical professional who feels the need to express and share his musical ideas not only through the piano, but also by writing and using the social media.

What does it mean for you to be a classical music critic today?

As a co-editor for Pianostreet.com, with more than 200.000 members, which includes production of blog and news postings, we do not review in a traditional sense. If an event, recording, publication or project is showing proof of quality and concern for our members/readers, we will cover it. In that sense, we will always function from an independent base, letting projects qualify themselves so to speak.

How do you see the influence of internet and of the social media in the way people perceive classical music?

The Internet and social media has a tremendous impact on the visibility of classical music. Not only by adopting ways that popular culture used to explore, but from the basis of accessibility. Statistics show that tweens and teens mainly use their mobile phones and tablets for sonic and visual media. Not much for gaming, as many would think. In that way, producers have a possibility and responsibility of building unique musical experiences from an early start. As far as concert productions are concerned, producers can easily promote live concerts rather inexpensively (Facebook and Google marketing, for example) including giving samples and creating a pre-expectation around the upcoming event.

You are also a very active piano teacher. Can you give some suggestion to young students who are trying to make a career as classical musicians?

I have been teaching for more than 30 years and I have instructed students on all levels, including national and international prize winners, as well as hobby musicians and now functioning examined piano teachers. Being the President of European Piano Teachers Association – Sweden, I have seen the development in different areas of musicians’ training over the years, along with economical/educational reforms and realities of national governmental policies and decisions. Society has been moving from ideological humanism into a econo-technology.

Therefore, it makes it generally harder for a teacher to encourage a career as a classical musician when societal funding is decreasing or simply not attract decision makers anymore. The classical sector today has to prove profit in the same way the commercial industry does. This requires a unique talent, passion and endurance for students who chose a career in classical music. I can today – more than ever – also see how the students’ property in the field of entrepreneurship will have a crucial effect on the ability to succeed. Generally, I recommend my most talented
piano students to widen their perspectives and study abroad, at least to build international contacts for the future.

What is the future of classical music? Can you try to predict the most surprising changes that we will experience in the next 10-15 years?

This is very hard to predict as it is closely linked to educational and economical structures decided by governments. If international brain research was to decide, so much more focus and money ought to be spent on music and instrumental teaching at schools everywhere. If we study the piano and the ¨Lang Lang effect¨ in China, it all comes down to status. What can the society (and thus industry) gain? In the US many orchestras face economic problems as the old sponsor families are now more interested in rock ‘n’ roll. Statistics show that consumers of classical music are a steady 5% of the population. Kids that are early exposed to classical music makes it easier to pursue a career, parents play and listen, provide good schooling and so on. Governments must decide what kind of society they want and thus fund it.
Kids will always identify with what they are exposed to (what there is) and classical music needs to be experienced and requires space in all forms of media.

What do you expect to see in Cremona next September?

Cremona Musica is a unique forum for the mixture of market, manufacturers, academia and education. I always find competence, innovations and artists there that broadens my perspectives. The Cremonese cuisine is also a truly fantastic experience every time!

Can you suggest a “good model” in the Swedish classical music system to be considered and “exported” in other countries?

There are many. Music schools are springs of innovations with beginners’ orchestral concerts, ¨Piano Days for young pianists in the entire region¨, Multimedia concerts mixing the visual with music in different genres
and improvisation. Music camps with different stations; group lessons, individual lessons, iPad composition, improvisation, Blues, Orchestra playing along with sport activities. Established artists are inviting audiences to
the same multi-media experiences, discussions with the audience. My good friend and international pianist Peter Jablonski just played a recital in a car manufacturers’ big hall, among the vehicles. Classical pianists
and Jazz pianists sharing recital. Opera singers doing cross-over. Chamber music series offering concerts in your living room. Finnish piano pedagogue Eeva Sarmanto-Neuvonen (Sibelius Academy) who wrote several piano books (including The Finnish Piano School) orchestrated her wonderful book for beginners ¨Animal Pictures¨ which then is performed with a narrator and very young pianists and a small chamber school orchestra. Wonderful initiative. Music schools have ¨Open Houses¨ inviting kids and parents to try instruments. Music Mix is popular as a preparatory tool: During one year, young students can try many instruments in a kind of carousel curriculum. After that many are convinced which instrument they will choose. Many music schools also combine digital composition and digital tools along with the traditional instrumental teaching. On the competition side the competitive momenta are mixed with coaching, instruction and social activities in order to create a stimulating whole. Also Piano Festivals include a multitude of educational momenta. Well, as a whole, music teachers are extremely innovative and sensitive to new ideas. I also know from being a choir dad that Swedish choirs sing everywhere…