A Definitional Study, CM Amateurs

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Content: Department of Sociology, Humboldt State University Classical Music Amateurs: a definitional study Author(s): Robert A. Stebbins Source: Humboldt Journal of social relations, Vol. 5, No. 2 (SPRING/SUMMER 1978), pp. 78-103 Published by: Department of Sociology, Humboldt State University Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23261537 Accessed: 18-08-2016 13:59 UTC Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at http://about.jstor.org/terms JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] Department of Sociology, Humboldt State University is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Humboldt Journal of Social Relations This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
78 Classical Music Amateurs a definitional study Si/fhsk text 6» Robert A. Stebbins EttgitstK text by Robert A.Stebbins 1. strain The gentlemen musician of old is gradually being replaced by the modern amateur whose orientation toward classical music is char acterized by necessity, obi igation, seriousness, andcommitment. The modern musical amateur, along with amateurs in other fields, consti tute the marginal men of leisure, for they are neitherdabblers who ap proach music with little commitment or seriousness nor professionals who make a living off it. Rather they fail somewhere between, pos sessing a set of qualities unique to themselves. A pair of definitions of "classical music amateur" are developed from participant observer data, philosophic essays, and biographic and autobiographic accounts written by amateur themselves. The music amateur is first defined macrosociologically as a member of a professional-a...ateur-public system of functionally interdependent relationships. He is then de fined social psychologically with reference to five attitudes that dif ferentiate him from professional counterpart and differentiate both from their publics. A discussion follows in which amateur musicians are treated as one type of marginal man of leisure. HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS-5:2-Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
79 As professionalization spreads from one occupation to another, what was once considered play activity in some of these spheres is evolving quietly, inevitably, and unnoticeably intoanewform, which is best named modern amateurism. The evolution of modern amateurism has been occurring along side those occupations where some of the participants in the central activity areable to make a substantial liv ing off it, and consequently devote themselves to it as a vocation ratherthan as an avocation. Though there are possibly others, sport, entertainment, science, and the arts are the major types of occupa tions where work was once purely play and where modern amateurism is now a parallel development. What has been happening is that those who play at the activity are being overrun in significance, if not in numbers, by professionals and amateurs, a process that seems to unfold as follows: As the op portunity gradually appears in history for full-time pursuit of a skill or activity, we find that those with even an average aptitude for it are able to develop it to a level observably higher than that of the typical part-time participant. With today's mass availability of pro fessional performances (or products), whatever the field, newstandards of excellence soon confront all participants, whether professional or not. The performances of the professionals are frequently impressive for anyone who beholds them, but no one is impressed more than the non-professional participant who, through direct experience, knows the activity intimately. Once he becomes aware of the Professional Standards, all that he has accomplished there seems mediocre by com parison. He is thus faced with a critical choice in his career as a participant: restrict identification with the activity to a degree suf ficient to remain largely unaffected by such invidious contrasts or identify with it to a degree sufficient to spark an attempt to meet those standards. The first choice, which is still common, retains the participant as a player, dabbler, or dilettante. From Huizinga's (1955) perspec tive on play, music for this type of musician lacks necessity, obliga HUMBOLDT JOURNALOFSOCIAL RELATIONS -5:2 -Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
80 Hon, and utility and is produced with a disinterestedness that sets it, as an activity, apart from hisordinary, real life. The second choice, which is also common, and becoming more so, impels the participant away from play toward necessity, obligation, seriousness, and commit ment, as expressed in regimentation (e.g., rehearsals, practice) and systematization (e.g., schedules, organizations), and on to the status of modern amateur for some and professional for others. The player of old in sport and music, and quite possibly other fields, was referred to as a "gentleman" (Stone, 1972:48; Edwards, 1973:311; Shera, 1939:46). First Huizinga (l955:Chpt. 12) and then Stone (1972:48) have commented on his gradual disappearance from sport, a process that is still going on. Barzun (I956a:6l) points to this transformation in music. In music, too, the gentlemen player is still with us, as Kaplan (1955:12) and Stanfield (1954:260) have observed, despite increasing dominance by the amateur of its nonprofessional side. But, the assertion that the modern amateur is achieving ascend ance in the nonprofessional periphery of certain occupations is para doxical. The apparent contradiction lies in the observation that many famous and presumably busy people in other linesof work, from ancient to modern times, have demonstrated remarkable skill and talent in various avocational pursuits. There are scores of examples in music alone where day-to-day practice is required. Violin playing has com manded thedevoted attention of assorted personages from Nero Claudius Caesar, a Roman emperor, to Richard M. Nixon, an American presi dent. Frederickthe Greatwas said to havebeenan excellentflautist, as was Henry VIII whose instrumental compositions also survive to the present. Among the accomplished avocational pianists of history are found H. L. Mencken and Robert Browning. Certain early Americans distinguished themselves in nonprofessional music, including violinist Thomas Jefferson who owned one of the earliest Lremonese instruments broughttothe United States, and Benjamin Franklin who played several instruments in addition to inventing the glass harmonica for which both HUMBOLDT JOURNALOFSOCIAL RELATIONS-5:2-Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
. 81 Mozart and Beethoven wrote several works. Even such Hollywood stars as Debbie Reynolds, Tony Curtis, and Marlene Dietrich who play French horn, flute, and violin, respectively, have, in their off-hours, turned tomusic. Countless physicians, col lege professors, businessmen, and other frequently overloaded workers do the same thing. The paradox lies in the improbability of finding good musicians among groups known for their heavy occupational involvement. How can the modern amateur be gaining ascendance in the nonprofessional periphery of professional music and other occupations, when his ranks contain a sizeable portion of people from such groups? Contemporary professionalism is raising the standards, but amateurs, as well as pro fessionals, are ready to attempt to meet them in some significant fash ion . The paradox is solved by the additional observation that even busy men find time todo what they intentlydesire. For the professional and many a modern amateur, there is an intense desire to play a mu sical instrument well enough to please his own ear and the ears of his audience. A fundamental satisfaction is achieved. Yehudi Menuhin (1959:29) sums up this essential spiritual likeness among today's ama teur and professional musicians, though it should be noted that they do differ, as we shall see later, in other respects. This brings us to the sociologist's interest in amateurs in general and amateur musicians in particular. For him modern amateurs, in all fields, to the extent they can be said to be guided by professionals standards and share the same spirit of satisfaction, are the marginal men of leisure. They are neither dabblers who approach the activity with little commitment or seriousness, nor professionals who make a living off that activity and spend a major portion of theirwaking hours doing so--for whom it is an occupation. Amateurs, as I intend to dem onstrate in the following sections, fall somewhere between, possess ing certain qualities unique to themselves. HUMBOLDT JOURNALOF SOCIAL RELATIONS -5:2 -Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
82 Though we examine in detail, in subsequent sections, the ama teur musician's relationship to the professional, it is important to note here that the latter often regards the former favorably (see Bentzon, 1964:125). Many professionals also recommend that high schools and colleges train both the avocational and the professional musician (Barzun, 1956:61; Hendrickson, 1968:34; Boutilier, 1969:62; National Music Council, I964H965; Greenleaf, 1966:51; Bain, 1967:108-114). In spite ofthe rapidly growing number of amateurs in music, the marginality they currently experience between the worlds of work and leisure, and the evidence of their significance for professional musi cians, sociologists have all but ignored them. Only Max Kaplan has contributed a substantial amount of thought and data in this area. Thus, we are forced to start at the beginning, bydefining the amateur musician. Owing to space limitations, among other reasons (see Steb bins, 1976), attention is restricted to the amateur instrumentalist in what is variously referred to as classical or art or serious music. The Meaning of "Amateur" From a sociologist's standpoint the idea of amateur, in general is used with an annoying imprecision in everyday life. A brief exam ination of that entry in Webster's Unabridged Dictionary is illuminat ing. On the one hand, an amateur is said in the firstsense ofthe word to be adevoteewho loves a particularactivity, while in another sense he is said to be a superficial participant--a dilettanteordabbler. On the otherhand, dilettante is defined in the first sense as a lover of the arts, and in the second as a person who has discrimination or taste. Orconsider the logical difficulties posed byyet another sense of "ama teur" that holds that he is an inexperienced person and the patent fact that devotees of an activity quite naturally put in much time at it, thereby achieving remarkable competence in it. I have taken up elsewhere the task of defining, in broad terms, HUMBOLDT JOURNALOFSOCIAL RELATIONS -5:2-Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
83 the idea of amateur (Stebbins, 1977). The theoretical and empirical problems encountered in this endeavor and their solutions are dealt with there. In the present paper, two general definitions are applied to amateurclassical musicians. As background for the construction of the definitions and their application to music, over two-hundred bio graphic and autobiographic accounts were collected and examined. These constitute one source of ideas. Another was my own experience as amateur musician. In this role I have played in fifteen enduring amateur music groups and scores of ephemeral ones over the past sev enteen years in four communities. To this background must be added my countless conversations in the past with friends and acquaintances about their amateur involvement in music. The professional-amateur-public system For reasons stated elsewhere the relationship between amateur and professional turns out to be a central theme, which can serve as a startingpoint foradefinitionof amateurclassical musician (Stebbins, 1977). Two simple ways of differentiating an amateur from a profes sional reflect commonsense usage: (I) The professional gains at least fifty percent of his livelihood from his pursuit while the amateur, at the most, only supplements a principle source of income earned else where. (2) The professional spends considerably more time at his pur suit than does the amateur. One could build a definition of either person from these two truisms that would distinguish him from the other, but one would have achieved little. Forsuch definitions fail to com municate the essence of amateur or professional--indeed, as in sport, they may be misleading--while they also fail to tie in with existing sociological theory. Fortunately, a more sophisticated, sociological definition is available. The data sources for this paper confirm the significance of considering the professional in attempting to identify the nature of the amateur, while addinganother important element: publics. These HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS -5:2 -Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
84 sources suggest that the amateur be defined as part of a professional gmateur-public (P-A-P) system of functionally interdependent rela tionships. The question is how are the professionals, the amateurs, and their publics interdependent? Let us start to answer it by reviewing some of the sociological principlesof the professional-client relation ship. The characteristics of professionals that are relevant to our aims can be stated in ideal-typical terms: (I) they turn out an unstandard ized product; (2) they hold wide knowledge of a special ized technique; (3) they have a sense of identity with their colleagues; (4) they have mastered a generalized cultural tradition; (5) they use institutionalized means of validating adequacy of training and competence of trained individuals; (6) they emphasize standards and service rather than mate rial rewards; (7) they are recognized by their clients for their profes sional authority based on knowledge and technique (summarized from Gross, 1958:77-82; Parsons, 1968:536; Kaplan, 1960:203-204). The term "professional" is reserved here for those who, within the limits of variation that have come to be established in occupational sociol ogy, meet these seven criteria. In my broader statement about amateurs, clients are referred to as publics: groups of people with a common interest, which are served by professionals or amateurs or both, and which make active demands on them. This revision in nomenclature fits better the client groups served by professionals in the arts, sciences, sports, and entertain ment fields, where the dyadic relationship implied in the concept of "client" is non-existent. The publ ics of amateur and professional mu sicians are nearly always their audiences. Audiences are functional ly related to the other two groups in the musical P-A-P system in at least four ways: thev provide financial support for the professionals, and sometimes the amateurs, in return for their performances; they provide both groups with feedback on the adequacy of those performances; and they provide role-support and, HUMBOLDT JOURNALOF SOCIAL RELATIONS -5:2 -Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
85 occasionally, nonsupport (Collingwood, 1958:314). Fourth, audiences sometimes have an actual part in the professional's performance (e.g., Noble, 1970:2). According to Collingwood (1958) artists of all sorts may take their public's limitations into account when composing their works; it helps determine subject matter and meaning of the works them selves. Amateurs. The sources of data for this paper suggest seven ways in which amateurs in classical music are functionally linked to profes sionals or audiences or both. First, amateurs can also be described, ideal typically, by the seven characteristics just used to describe pro fessionals. True, some amateurs fail to attain professional standards with respect to points (2), (4), (6), and (7); but, as noted in the fol lowing section, this is a matter of parallel gradation in which both groups are clearly more advanced than their audiences in these ways. In other words, amateurs perform before audiences, as profes sionals do, and at times the same ones. And, they are oriented by standards of excellence set and communicated by those professionals. One exampleof this link is thecommunity orchestra that performs be fore an audience that, to a great extent, turns out two weeks later to hear a touring chamber music ensemble. Second, a monetary and organizational relationship is frequent ly established when professionals train, direct, advise, organize, and even perform with amateurs and when amateurs come to compose part of their audience (Shera, I939:vii; Kaplan, 1955:8; Baumol and Bowen, 1966:17; Greenleaf, 1966:51; American Symphony Orchestra League, 1965). In the audience listening to the touring chamber orchestra will be some of the members of the community orchestra who performed a fortnightearlier. It isalsocommon among community orchestras to hire a number of professionals to play key positions on a permanent basis or to support numerically or musically weak sections at concert time. With certain notorious exceptions (e.g., Taubman, 1959:9; Parmenter, 1972:11) relationships of this sort are sought by the professionals rather HUMBOLDT JOURNALOF SOCIAL RELATIONS-5:2-Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
86 than forced upon them. Third, thereis an intellectual relationship among professionals, amateurs, and their audiences, which springs primarily from the ama teurs . Having more time for such things, theycan maintain a broader, and simultaneously less specialized knowledge of music than can most professionals. Most professionals are often too busy polishing tech nique and making a living with it to find time for reading about the history of music or about its various forms, styles, periods, or persons beyond theirbailiwick (Drinker, 1967:75-78; Downes, 1951:5; Barzun, 1954:22, 24-25). Although there is a tendency even among amateurs toward specialty and limitation, those that avoid it can give profes sionals and publics alike perspective on music, promote a common language for discussion and criticism, and work against the breakup of the profession into exclusive subdivisions (Barzun, 1956b:438). Pro fessionals must specialize to succeed, whereas amateurs need not. The amateur, as a special member of the audience, knows better than the run-of-the-mill member what constitutes a creditable per formance. After all, he himself is attempting to meet certain profes sional standards in his own fashion. Consequently, he relates to both audience and professionals in three additional ways: he restrains the professionals from overemphasizing technique and other superficialities in lieu of a meaningful performance; he insists everywhere on the re tention of good taste; and he furnishes professionals with the stimulus to give the audience the best they can (Drinker, 1952:577). For instance, a twenty-thousand dollar Stradivarius violin may impress many of the assembled audience, but the amateur knows when this is superficial--that an old and famous instrument does not a mu sician make. And, knowing better, hecan insiston good tasteand on being given genuine art rather than some put-on Musicians also know when they see a member of the audience following a miniature score of the symphony they are playing that he is likely to be able to spot their mistakes, spiritless solos, late entries, and other artistic flaws.' HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS-5:2-Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
A sprinkling of knowledgeable, skilled, and concerned people in the audience is often sufficient to encourage the best from performing pro fessionals . The seventh functional relationship, this time among professionals and amateurs only, concerns career. The professional who falls with in a P-A-P system inevitably starts out in the amateur ranks and, un less he abandons his pursuit entirely or dies in this role, he returns to those ranks again ata later stage in his career. Thissubject is treated in greater detail in a subsequent section. Implications. The foregoing presentation of the professional amateur-public system suggests a number of implications that can as sist us in achieving a clearer conception of the amateur classical mu sician.^ One is that amateurs are people who engage inactivities that, for other people, constitute work roles. A second implication follows that amateurs are normally adults, though a certain number of late teen-agers are included here. In general, only other adults can be functionally related to professionals in the ways set forth earlier. The musical activities of children and many teen-agers are described, not by "amateur," but by other adjectives; for examples, youth or chestra, all-city orchestra, high school orchestra, and so forth. A third implication is that, even for the amateur, there is near ly always an audience. Perhaps for him (and the professional too) the audience is imagined some minor proportion of the time. And, his real audience may be small, composed of friends, relatives, neighbors, or other amateurs. Nonetheless, most of the time most amateurs, when not practicing, are performing before an audience, notsimply for them selves. In fact, many amateur musical pursuits are unavoidably social, inasmuch as they can only be carried out col lectively. The lone piano player, however, is excluded from this aspect of amateur life. In one essential way he is no amateur at all. The fourth implication centers on the developed knowledge of HUMBOLDT JOURNALOFSOCIAL RELATIONS-5:2-Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
88 and technique on a musical instrument among professionals and, to a lesserdegree, amateurs. Included here are the abilities to sight-read; tune quickly, quietly, and accurately; and, among orchestral musi cians, follow the conductor. Both groups must use their knowledge and technique often enough to avoid their degeneration. Put different ly, even the idea of amateur presupposes some level of consistently active use of the core skills and knowledge of music. Today's exten sive leisure makes this possible.^ Music teachers, to the extent that they maintain their technique and knowledge in order to teach wel I, may be considered practitioners. Such people as full-time administrators, conductors, and critics who let these atrophy may lose not only their claim to professional status, but also theirc laim to amateur status. They tend to move to the periph ery of the P-A-P system of classical music. Inside this system but outside amateur circles are the dabblers: those whose active involvement and musical technique and knowledge are so meageras to barely distinguish them from the audience of which they are actuallya part.^ Like otherP-A-P systems, thatof classical music also has among its public, novices, or people who may some day be amateurs, possiblyeven professionals. They are beginners who are consistently engaged in music (not mere dabblers), but who have yet to grow proficient and knowledgeable enough to lay claim to the identity of amateur or professional (see Marsh, 1972:168). Indeed, neitherdabblers nor novices are apt to refer to themselves as musicians, which is one way of distinguishing them from amateurs. Statements, such as "I'm just learning to play the viola" or "I just fool around at the piano" identify these people. Amateurs, while recognizing their limitations, identify themselves, asweshall see, as more seriously in volved . A fifth implication rests on the etymological roots of the word "amateur;" he is an amator or one who loves. This definition, often naively used in the literature examined, needs qualification. First, HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS-5:2- Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
89 though it is possible as it is said, that the amateur is attracted to his pursuit more than his professional colleagues, perhaps because he en gages in it less, music is nevertheless, rarely an unalloyed joy for either category. Amateurs do get tired, bored, frustrated, peeved, and discouraged just as professionals do; the acquisition and mainten ance of skill and knowledge always entails some of this. Second, the literature tends to infer from this definition that the professional dislikes his work, apparently because he has to do if in ordertolive (Antrim, 1956; Newman, 1919:41; McDonald, 1973:64). But, this stance fails to square with a major characteristic of profes sionals; namely, thatthey emphasize standards and service rather than material rewards. In actuality, this kind of work is so engaging thai it becomes an end in itself, erasing the lines between work and lei sure (Orzack, 1959:125-131). Or as T. H. Marshall phrases it: "the professional. . .doesnot work in order to be paid; he is paid in order that he may work" (quoted from Gross, 1958:79). General I yspeaking then, the amateur musician loves his pursuit, or he would not pursue it; but it is erroneous to assume that the professional dislikes his. Many amateurs and professionals arededicated to their music, which is what makes it enjoyable. Subjectively, love for and dedication to an activity are inevit ably somewhatdifferent amongall types of amateurs and professionals. Charnofsky has shown for major league baseball players that there are many aspects of their professional lives that they enjoy, among them the money, travel, meeting people, and attractiveness of the game it self (Charnofsky, 1968). By contrasts, no amateur, whatever his activ ity, is involved in it as a wayof life. Hence, his attraction can only be to the central activity. Both groups can honestly say they enjoy their pursuits, but for only partially overlapping sets of reasons. HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS -5:2 - Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
90 Types of Amateurs A definitional undertaking, such as the present one, can make little real progress without a typology. While there are no doubt others, the empirical sources for this paper as well as everyday speech hint at two important dimensions along which distinctions can bedrawn. One of these--the seriousness dimension--is also implicit in Max Kaplan's (1954:26-28) work. When an amateur is highly dedicated to classical music, we will refer to him asa devotee. When he is only mildly in terested, butsignificantly more so than the dabbler, we will call him a participant. Participantsprobablygreatlyoutnumberdevotees. They can be distinguished operationally by the amount of time they commit to practicing, rehearsing, performing, and studying in accordance with the accepted professional norms for classical music. The second dimension concerns career. The preprofessional is an amateur who intends to join the professional ranks. The pure ama teur has never seriously held such aspirations, or, if he has, he has failed, for some reason, to enter those ranks. The postprofessional, though hehasdecided to abandon his profession, stil I wishes to partici pate in music on a part-time basis. Postprofessionals reach this status by retiring, accepting employment peripheral to the P-A-P system, switching to a career in a different field (e.g., the discouraged pro fessional symphony musician who turns to insurance sales, but con tinues to participate in chamber music sessions), and perhaps other ways. Six types of amateurs result from cross-classification of these two di mensions (see Stebbins, 1977). The preprofessional type draws attention to the fact that ama teurs form a major pool for recruitment to professional ranks. Schools of music train explicitly for this purpose, though as pointed out in the introduction, a number of writers feel they should also train devoted amateurs (Bain, 1967:110). Many community orchestras, too, provide a certain number of future professionals with their initial major sym phony experience, including conductors (Sherman, 1968:5; Time, HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS - 5:2 - Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
91 i959:4I; Musical Courier, 1953:14; Mitchell, 1975).^ It is probably in correct, however, to view an entire amateur orchestra as a potential professional orchestra as some people are inclined to do. Pure ama teurs who compose the largest portion of a typical community orchestra lack the time and to some extent the ability to meet the rehearsal and performance demands of even one concert a month, which is roughly the minimum number of performances for most professional orchestras. What appears to happen when an amateur orchestra is said to have be come professional, is thatoutside professionals have replaced the ma jority of amateurs during the transformation. Except for a few who were on the verge of turning professional anyway, the amateurs, now faced with no collective outlet for their musical yearnings, must start a new ensemble. The distinction between devotee and participant in music indi cates there is a difference among amateurs in terms of their dedica tion to it and hence in terms of their developed skill and knowledge. This samedistinction, ofcourse, could also bedrawn for professionals, though, in general, levels of skill, knowledge, and dedication would besomewhat higher. In other words it is a matter of parallel grada tion (Barzun, 1954:21). Thedevoted postprofessional plays in chamber music groups, com munity orchestras, or special orchestras, such as the Senior Concert Orchestra composed of retired professionals of New York's Local mu sicians union. Many artists, however, including sculptors, painters, writers, and musicians, being independent entrepreneurs, never re tire (Hearn, 1972). Casual preprofessionals stand the best chance of failing in the professional world and thus of being forced to retreat to the status of casual postprofessional. Indeed, they may even fail to get started professionally. They are forever participants, as in the case of the cellist in a university orchestra who failing to get a position with a professional symphony, winds up playing in a community orchestra, HUMBOLDT JOURNALOF SOCIAL RELATIONS-5:2-Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
92 while teaching music in the public schools. He, thus, becomes a casual pure amateur. Attitudes It is also possible to define the classical music amateur social psychologically, bymeans of hisdistinctive set of attitudes. Five at titudes are presented here, variation in which separates amateurs from professionals and separates both from their audiences (including dab blers and novices). They are confidence, perseverance, continuance commitment, preparedness, and self-conception. Other attitudes, of course, have been discussed in the preceding pages; namely dedica tion to and love for the field and identity with one's colleagues. But, amateurs and professionals are too much alike in these orientations for them to function as adequate differentiae. Confidence, on the other hand, isa prominent quality of exper ienced professionals, but absent in most amateurs. Questions dart through the typical amateur's mind, like: Is this the correct entry for my solo? What if my clarinet squeaks? I get so nervous during these concerts. The amateur, more than the seasoned professional, doubts his abilities, expresses them timidly, loses control through nervous ten sion, and the like. While professionals experience nervousness, too, they learn to control it. Perseverancesimilarlydistinguishes these two groups. Any pro fessional, seasoned or green, knows he muststick to his music when the goinggets tough (Collingwood, 1958:313-314). Assisting him here, is the professional subculture. It helps him interpret vituperative com ments from critics, conductors, directors, section principals, and others, comments that the amateur is less likely to get, if he gets any at all. That subculture also encourages him to persist at shaping mu sical skills that seem to have reached a plateau in their development, by pointing out that progress will resume in the future if certain steps HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS-5:2-Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
93 are taken. The greater perseverance of professional musicians is fostered, in part, by their greater continuance commitment. The concept of "continuance commitment, "developed by Becker (I960), Kantor (1968), and Stebbins (1970; l97!:Chpt. 2), is defined as "the awareness of the impossibility ofchoosing a differentsocial identity. . .becauseof the imminence of penalties involved in making the switch" (Stebbins, 1971:35). Although continuance commitment to a professional identity is a self-enhancing matter--being forced to remain in a status to which one is attracted--penalties still accumulate to militate against its re nunciation. Such movement is limited by legal contracts, Pension Funds, and seniority. Professional classical musicians have also made expensive investments of time and energy and money in obtaining train ing, instruments and equipment. Adjustments to the identity and to positions within specific musical organizations (e.g., principal, con certmaster, section player) may unfit them forother identities and some times even otheroccupational positions within the same identity. For malized status passages sometimes add to the difficulty of switching roles. Lastly, since the professional makes his living in music, choices are restricted; for a new position or identity must have at least the same potential for support of himself and his family. With few excep tions amateurs never experience these pressures to stay at music. They have a "value commitment" but no continuance commitment, while professionals have both (Stebbins, 1970:526-527). Professionals also evince a preparedness that is commonly lack ing in amateurs. By "preparedness" is meanta readiness toplay music to the best of one's ability at the appointed time and place. It refers to punctuality at such events as rehearsals and concerts and to arriv ing at these events in appropriate physical condition with the re quired equipment in good repair and adjustment. Professional sym phony orchestra musicians are required to appear at rehearsals with a pencil for marking their parts, an assortment of mutes, and an instru ment in playable condition. Falling bridges on cellos and double bales, HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS - 5:2 - Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
94 so common in amateur orchestras, rarely if ever occur in professional organizations. So amateurs are less prepared. They are significantly more likely to be late, turn up in less than ideal physical condition (e.g., worn out from a day's work, too many beers before rehearsals), and do so with important equipment missing or in need of repair or adjustment. Indeed, they may not even own the instrument on which they play, a situation possibly most common in university orchestras. Moving on to self-conception, it need only be mentioned that professionals and amateurs conceive of themselves in these terms. Their self-conceptions contain at least five components: (I) the performer's estimation of his musicianship or ability to play his instrument; (2) his estimation of his artistic ability or ability to create on that instru ment; (3) his devotion to playing classical music; (4) his awareness, vague as it may be, of his place in the P-A-P system of classical mu sic; and (5) his feeling of marginality between the worlds of leisure and professional music. Self-identification as professional or ama teur is perhaps the most reliable operational measure for separating them available at present. These five attitudes compose a social psychological definition of the amateurc lassical musician. Nonetheless, the assumption should be avoided that their professional counterparts hold them in ideal form. This seldom happens. Even though they are significantly more confi dent, persevering, committed, and prepared than amateurs, they fall short of highest points on these continua. Marginality We have been considering the meaning of "amateur" in classical music. As special however, is the amateur's marginality, for he dwel Is, particularly the devoted amateur, between the worlds of work and pop ular leisure. There are several aspects of this marginality. HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS - 5:2 - Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
95 One is that amateurs in classical music, though neither dab blers nor workers, are serious about their leisure. Thus, more often than not, they are misunderstood b/their friends, neighbors, and rel atives who, being outside music, spend their leisure as spectators, dabblers, or participants in some nonserious activity. The serious ness of musical amateurs is evident in their approach to rehearsals and concerts, in their talk about music, and, most significantly, in their practice sessions. "No scientist, no doctor-fiddler," writes Catherine Drinker Bowen (1935:68), "comes to quartets with strings broken from neglect, or a bow stiff from lack of practice." But, seriousness at leisure sets them off from the majority of other people who find such an orientation foreign, possibly a bit quaint or snobbish, and, rarely, even admirable. Another aspect of marginality is the tendency for the amateur musician's avocation to get out of hand, the tendency toward uncon trollability. For instance, havingspent himself the night before play ing chamber music or giving a concert, he finds he is in less than op timal condition to work at his occupation the next day. And, there is always the temptation to add time to music by subtracting it, where possible, from work or family obligations. "Rachel--never marry an amateur violinist!" a professional violinist counseled his daughter. "He will want to play quartets all night" (Bowen, 1935:93). For those who find thesmall and occasional monetary rewards of amateurclassical music attractive, this tendency is only further encouraged. On top of these inclinations are the nearly universal desires to own a better instrument, buy more music and records, take more music lessons per haps from a more renowned (and consequently more expensive) profes sional, and so forth. In short, amateur music stands ready to devour all the time and money its practitioners have for it to feed on. Likely, the tendency toward uncontrollability isevident in other forms of leisure, should we care to look for it there. Implicit in the present statement, however, is the hypothesis that uncontrollability is significantlygreateramongamateurs inall fields, particularlydevoted HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS - 5:2 - Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
96 amateurs, than among, for example, dabblers or spectators. More over, many avocations and pastimes, no matter how unmanageable, are not marginal, but solidly of the sphere of leisure. A third aspect of the amateur's marginality turns on the fact that he can never gain total entrance to the professional world and remain an amateur. He is consigned by his overall life-style to a peripheral role in the activity system of his significant other, the professional musician. Being peripheral in this way leads, simultane ously, to a feeling of inferiority with respect to and an awe for the ability of capable professionals. As Walter Grueninger (1957:72) says of the amateur classical musician: "All players would like to play better and, " he adds, "forever." Among many amateurs the feel ings of awe and inferiority seem to engender a type of gullibility: a propensity to accept, unquestioningly, any statementor judgment made by a respected professional about music. And the inferiority felt by amateurs can also emerge from the comments occasionally made about them by professionals (e.g., Shera, 1939:27). Fourth, is the aspect of frustration that arises for amateurs from internalizing high, professional standards of performance, accompa nied by lack of time and possibly experience, training, and equip ment with which to meet them. Amateurs try to reduce their musical aims to some more manageable level, but there are no specifically amateur or in-between standards to guide them. Nor are there ever likely to be any. The performance of a community orchestra is judged by such criteria as intonation, ensemble playing, and dynamics fust as that of a professional orchestra is. Critics and musicians have been known to observe that such performances are "pretty good for a ccm munity orchestra," which simply indicates that they have accepted, for the moment, a truncated expression of professional standards. At bottom, however, there is no double standard in classical music. To day, performances by amateurs and professionals alike are truly mer itorious oniy to the extent that they approach perfection on these di mensions. HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS-5:2-Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
97 Cone lusion This treatment of musical amateurs as marginal men of leisure has brought us full circle in our search for a definition of them. It was noted earlier that professionals may be distinguished from amateurs by two facts: the former gain at least fifty percent of their livelihood from music while the latter do not and they put in considerably more time at music than the latter. Though these two truisms provide us with useful operational definitions for certain research questions, they do so only because they relate both amateurs and professionals to the un derlying theme of occupational continuance commitment--professionals are committed to music and amateurs to some livelihood outside music. But, as pointed out, these definitions give us only false leads in tracking down the essence of "amateur." Ourdiscussion of margin al ity shows us why. The modern amateur would like to spend more time and sometimes more money at his or her avocation than time and in come permit. And my observations suggest that he is in nowayopposed to making money at his pursuit--even a lot of it--so long as itcontinues to be moreor less enjoyable. To his family, if he has one, the money may help justify his participation in music, while compensating for its expenses and generally augmenting the family budget. At times, such earnings evenhelppay for the coveted items, mentioned earlier, that amateurs seek. It is their marginal ity that steers us from simplistic de finitions, which are adequate for defining othertypes of leisure users, to definitions that rest on their social and attitudinal organization. FOOTNOTES 1. It should be evident from this example that, although profes sionals set and communicate the standards, they occasionally fail to live up to them. 2. Additional implications, concerning amateurs in general, are presented in Stebbins (1977). HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS-5:2-Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
98 As noted later, even persons employed professionally outside their avocation, manage to sustain consistent, active involve ment in it. On the practice habits of these busy artists, see articles Bowen (1935:68), Marsh (1972:15), and Phillips (1974:52). Kaplan (1955:12) equates lack of skill and knowledge with ama teurism, which, of course, fails to square with the argument being tendered here. Organizations like the National Orchestral Association in New York City and rhe Chicago Civic Orchestra are purely training grounds for future professionals. Being largely or totally composed of preprofessional amateurs, they are not community orchestras. REFERENCES American Symphony Orchestra League !965 "League executive proposes changes in AF of M Mem bership status and payment policies for avocational musicians." Newsletter of the AMERICAN SYM PHONY ORCHESTRA LEAGUE 16 (l):7. Antrim, Dorin K. 1956 "They make music wherever they go." THE ETUDE 74 (March):ll. Bain, Wilfred C. 1967 "The university symphony orchestra." Pp. 108-114 in HenrySwoboda (ed.), THE AMERICAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA New York: Basic Books. Barzun, Jacques 1954 "The indispensable amateur." JUILLIARD REVIEW I: 19-25. HUMBOLDT JOURNALOF SOCIAL RELATIONS-5:2-Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
99 1956a MUSIC IN AMERICAN LIFE Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1956b "New man in the arts." AMERICAN SCHOLAR 25: 437-444. Baumol, William J. and William G. Bowen 1966 Performing Arts: THE ECONOMIC DILEMMA. New York: The Twentieth Century Fund. Becker, Howard S. I960 "Noteson the concept of commitment." American Journal of Sociology 66:32-40. Bentzon, Johan 1964 "International seminar on relations between amateur and professional musicians." THE WORLD OF MU SIC: BULLETIN OF THE INTERNATIONAL MUSIC COUNCIL 6 (5-6): 125. Boutilier, Mary 1969 "Here's to the amateur. " MUSIC JOURNAL 27 (Sep tember)^. Bowen, Catherine Drinker 1935 FRIENDS AND FIDDLERS Boston: Little Brown. Charnofsky, Harold 1968 "The major league professional baseball player." INTERNATIONAL REVIEWOF SPORT SOCIOLOGY 3:39-55. Collingwood, R. G. 1958 THE PRINCIPLES OF ART New York: Oxford Univer sity Press. HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS -5:2-Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
100 Dowries, Olin 1951 "Power to the public." New York Times Sect. II (July 15):5. Drinker, Henry S. 1952 "Amateur in music." AMERICAN Philosophical Society PROCEEDINGS 96:573-577. 1967 "Amateur and music." MUSIC EDUCATOR'S JOUR NAL 54:75-78. Edwards, Harry 1973 SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT Homewood, III.: Dorsey. Green leaf, Leland B. 1966 "Don't forget the adults." MUSIC JOURNAL AN NUAL 51. Gross, Edward 1958 WORK AND SOCIETY New York: Thomas Y. Cro well. Grueninger, Walter F. 1957 "Let's warm up on a Haydn. " DUN'S REVIEW 69:58 60. Hearn, Hershel, L. 1972 "Aging and the artistic career. " THE GERONTOLO GIST 12:362-375. Hendrickson, Walter B. 1968 "Speak up for the amateur." Mo SIC JOURNAL 26 (April):34. Huizinga, Johan 1955 HOMO LUDENS Boston: Beacon. HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS-5:2-Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
101 Kantor, Rosabeth M. 1968 "Commitment and social organization." American Sociological Review 33:499-517. Kaplan, Max 1954 "Music in adult life." MUSIC EDUCATOR'S JOUR NAL 40:26-28. 1955 MUSIC IN RECREATION Champaign, III.: Stipes. I960 LEISURE IN AMERICA New York: John Wiley. Marsh, Leonard 1972 AT HOME WITH MUSIC Vancouver: Versatile. McDonald, Elvin 1973 "Music making: today's new sport." HOUSE BEAU TIFUL 115 (October) :64-66. Menuhin, Yehudi 1959 "Standing conference news." MAKING MUSIC (41) 29. Mitchell, Alison 1975 "Antonia: woman conductor finds her recognition." DALLAS TIMES HERALD (Sun., September 7):8G. Musical Courier 1953 "Glendale Symphony is flourishing ensemble." 147 (March I):I4. National Music Council 1964-1965 "Symposium: how to continue participation of non professional music students." NATIONAL MUSIC COUNCIL BULLETIN 25 (2):I2-I8. HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS-5:2-Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
102 Newman, Ernest 1919 A MUSICAL MOTLEY New York: John Lane. Noble, Richard D. C. 1970 "The great divide." DOLMETSCH BULLETIN 16 (March):2. Orzack 1959 "Work as a 'central life interest'of professionals." SOCIAL PROBLEMS 7:125-131. Parmenter, Ross 1962 "Pros versus amateurs in Fort Wayne row. " NEW YORK TIMES Sect. II (November 4):11. Parsons, Talcott 1968 "Professions." Pp. 536-547 in David L. Sills (ed.), INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIAORTHE Social Sciences 12 New York: Crowell, Collier, MacMil lan. Phillips, Harvey 1974 "The amateur virtuoso." PHYSICIAN'S WORLD 2 (June):5l-58. Shera, Frank H. 1939 THE AMATEUR IN MUSIC New York: Books for Li braries Press. Sherman, R. 1968 "Cleveland Women's Symphony Orchestra." INTER NATIONAL MUSICIAN 67 (December):5. Stanfield, M. B. 1954 "The 'little'and the 'much.'" THE STRAD 66:258. HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS-5:2-Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
103 Stebbins, Robert A. 1970 "On misunderstanding the concept of commitment." SOCIAL FORCES 48:526-529. 1971 COMMITMENT TO DEVIANCE Westport, Conn.: Greenwood. 1976 "Music among friends: the social networks of amateur musicians." INTERNATIONAL REVIEWOF SOCIOL OGY Series II 12:52-73. 1977 "The amateur: two sociological definitions. " PACIF IC SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW 20:582-606. Stone, Gregory P. 1972 "American sports: play and display." Pp. 47-65 in Eric Dunning (ed.), SPORT Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Taubman, Howard 1959 "Let the pros play for pay." NEW YORK TIMES Sect. II (March 8):9. Time 1959 FAMILY ORCHESTRA (November 30):4I. HUMBOLDT JOURNAL OF SOCIAL RELATIONS-5:2-Sp./Sum. 1978 This content downloaded from on Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:59:49 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms

CM Amateurs

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Title: Classical Music Amateurs: a definitional
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