Who will listen to us tomorrow: a glance at the digital natives

1 May 2016

It is an established fact that digital natives think, behave and learn differently than older generations, so called digital immigrants. By virtue of being born and developed in digital environment, digital natives show signs or traits never seen before. They possess an inborn, instinctive sense of how to communicate, record, understand and share in the modern web-based society.

 

Still, there is another side of the coin. How does their distinctive features influence their ability to experience classical art and classical music specifically?

 

As it appears, rather negatively.

 

The point is that some important changes in their brains are not conducive to traditional ways of getting and processing information. There is enough data now to judge about it.

 

Manfred Spitzer, a renown German psychiatrist, neuroscientist, university professor and lecturer at Harvard, sums up the world’s research findings in his book “Digital dementia” (2012). The title of the book refers not as much to disease, but to regular widespread changes made by digital technologies to the human brain.

 

Some of them  that have a direct influence on perception of classical music are:

 

a) Difficulty with a prolonged concentration on one subject

b) Need for interactivity

c) Inclination to multitasking 

d) Compelling need for rapid change of the source and content of information

e) Inability to part from their gadgets even for a short period.

 

The latter refers especially to so-called Generation Z, young people born in the mid 1990s through the 2010s.

 

It is apparent that each of these features works against traditional perception of classical music in concert hall or at home, if not against classical music as such.

 

To bring classical music to digital natives turns out to be more difficult than to their parents and grandparents, regardless of financial, educational and other factors affecting the situation.

 

So, the question of attracting young audiences to the classical music is, to a large extent, the question of such forms of performance which doesn’t ignore the mental construction of digital natives. Relying on finances, education, and even on further enhancement of mastery of classical musicians seems no longer enough.

 

Photo: Getty Images

 

 

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Violinist deeply rooted in classical tradition and concerned about the future of the genre >> more about the author 

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