In this world many many people have an “agenda” An agenda of course, is not just a list of things to be discussed,perhaps at a faculty meting in a university, or even at a gathering of the family. We hear frequently of an “agenda” of course, in Washington ,DC within the halls of Congress, where it is most directly used. The meaning of the word “Agenda” changes from the list mentioned before. It becomes a reason for stating an idea which is really not what the congressman is saying. What he means, he doesn’t say. He says something else.
Mostly the congressman is talking about his main reason for being in Congress: staying there. He will say working for his constituents, but he (or she) will do it in such a way as to divert the direct meaning from keeping him(or her) in his seat(in Congress), but to helping some poor person within his constituency. And yes, the line does get blurred, but that’s the point.
John McCain, the former presidential candidate, is now in the fight of his life in Arizona, his home state. But he has a war chest built of some 5 million dollars and he will use that money to try to keep his seat. Actually, McCain, a very bright but cranky senator , who was all over the place in his campaign, most probably is a victim, a serious victim of PTSD, which is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a illness suffered by many who have been in war, but even worse, been held prisoner in war, as McCain was. His most famous comment during his campaign was “the American Economy is fundamentally sound”, a couple of weeks before the American economy tanked, almost bringing down the world economy.
Elliott Spitzer, former governor of New York had an agenda: appearing squeaky clean while in his office in Albany, but cavorting with prostitutes as his main occupation. We also know that Governor Mark Sanford of North Carolina had a hidden agends: it was a mistress in South America. He left his job, stating he was going to hike the trails of Appalachia while traveling to Argentina to see his love. Prior to this, he famously turned down the stimulus money provided for his miserably underemployed state, and by ordering his staff to use both sides of a “post-it” note. )It is not known whether he allowed them to write on the glue of the “post-it”) Agendas as such, go on and on, and in the political world it seems to have become the main reason for being in DC, and the “doublespeak” has become the overiding reason for the inability of congress to do anything.
Back to Music
I am a musician and I have been one for more than 60 years. In my youth I went to college in Texas and actually majored in Music Education for a while.(but then, I too had an agenda: I wanted to get away from home, and was able to get a full scholarship to do it.)
One of the courses I took was “Baton Twirlng and Drum Majoring”, a course in which I actually did a routine with two batons in order to pass the course. But the real reason for this course was to explain to potential band directors, the ins and outs of running a high school band in a small town in Texas. There were all kinds of variations taught on how to steer students toward various stores to buy instruments. Buying a particular instrument which would provide the dealer more of a profit than another instrument was one of the most important issues because the more students steered toward a certain instrument, good, bad, or terrible, the better the gift to the band director would be, which could be almost anything in the store, frequently stoves or dishwashers , or even hard, cold cash. Believe it, and please trust me. It is true.
This unmusical agenda having to do with products made in the music industry is in full force today.
Clarifying it is one of the reasons I write these articles. Yes, it is my opinion, but , an informed opinion.
Getting down to the Clarinet, we are surrounded by all kinds of agendas having to do with the selling of musical instruments, specifically in this case, the clarinet. Advancing the sale of clarinets is done by advertising of course, but very frequently the most money in advertising is spent on the most expensive clarinet. Why? Because the profit is more, pure and simple.
Things like musical integrity are always tossed out of the window. The Agenda is profit. It is not good music, good tuning, good sound; it is profit.
It extends to all areas of the clarinet and one has to be quite careful in purchasing a clarinet. They can cost up to 5 or 6 thousand dollars, which is a lot of money for young clarinetist to pay, or better yet, for the parents of a young student to pay.
What happens when a great designer of clarinets, one with many great insturments he designed to his international credit, decides to go into his own instrument business and because of his expertise, designs an instrument which he is able to sell for a 5th of the price of the five or six thousand dollars?
And made from a a stable material, which is easier to machine, and that has a pleasant sound. There are many many clarinetists who are grateful for the appearance of an affordable clarinet, and many more who play this clarinet and who find it preferable to a wooden instrument, prone to weather changes and to cracking. I have a set of these clarinets and play them for the reasons of beauty and of music.
But I am proud to recommend them because of my knowledge of the business, of what happens in a college where chlldren are playing their expensive wooden instruments, (bought by their parents), for hours and hours in band rehearsals, cracking them and having them bound together by the extreme changes in temperature and the fact that the wood is not properly aged or even machined.
Most of us know that there is another instrument out there, one that exceeds all wooden clarinets in material alone. The sound of hard rubber , while different, is preferable to many people. or indiscernible between that of wood.
It does create a problem for the whole clarinet manufacturing industry. You have to acquire it through a single individual meaning what? Where does the money go? To the designer of course, after he pays his expenses for manufacturing his design. It doesn’t go to the music store, so they are almost always willing to steer students toward what they themselves sell, the ones that cost five grand and provide the most profit.
It has almost become a mantra for me, trying to point students and their parents toward buying clarinets at a fifth of the price of the costly French grenadilla clarinets. It is not advertising, it is telling the truth as I have come to know it.
The kind of prejudice outlined above goes throughout the industry and into the repair of clarinets as well.
Just think, if a person brings a clarinet for repair which cost them initially a thousand dollars, how in the world can a repair person charge what they do for a horn that cost 5 thousand? They can’t.
This frustrates them, so understandably, they will denigrate the horn which is less expensive. This has happened to me, and I am one of the better known clarinetists in Montreal, if not elsewhere as well.
This is what I’m hearing about lately, the same old agenda song.
Stay well and keep practicing.
This is written for you and for TR.