Survey: What Does Classical Music Mean to You?


  1. Many people have asked what prompted this survey, and the honest answer is personal curiosity. It’s rare for people to think deeply about the “why” behind what they’re doing, and it’s an especially relevant question when you consider the unique difficulties that classical music presents as a profession. I was hoping that the survey responses would be insightful and encouraging to everyone involved (and they certainly were for me).
  2. And a big THANK YOU to everyone who took the time and energy to fill out the survey! It’s not the easiest way to spend your free time when everyone is busy with work and school and practice. It was incredibly interesting to read all your responses. I realized that many of us are in the same boat when it comes to things like performance anxiety or financial stress, and I like that the anonymous format enabled us to be honest about our fears. It’s also uplifting to realize that many students have put a lot of thought into how they can contribute to and improve the classical music establishment, instead of just complacently accepting how it is.
  3. Lastly, my hope was to provoke thoughtful discussion, and I want that to continue after these results are published! So if you have any feedback at all (even if it’s about how I can better present the results), leave a comment or contact me anonymously in the form at the end of this post!

On to the results!

1. Where are you from?

Of the 40 people who started the survey, 24 completed it. The majority of respondents were from Washington state, with California coming in second.


2. What degree program are you currently in?

The majority of the respondents were in Bachelor of Music programs or had graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree.


3. What do you see yourself doing professionally when your studies are completed?

Many people listed multiple possibilities, but the most popular were teaching and performing in general.


Some of the responses, in randomized order:

I think I will earn most of my money through teaching private lessons, but I also want to be active in performing, whether that involves collaborative, chamber, or solo works. I’m also intrigued by the idea of arts administration or starting some form of community outreach arts organization, but that’s something that I’m just starting to explore.

Already graduated – currently a freelance musician playing with several professional orchestras and maintaining a private teaching studio. Also involved in politics as my ‘day job.’

Teaching, performing and working as a collaborative pianist, blogging about music and helping to spread classical music awareness in the community

Freelancing, working towards membership in a symphony orchestra.

The logical and most reasonable choice is teaching, and although that isn’t my life’s passion, I could still see myself doing it.

I am interested in voice injuries; I want to research what types of habits in singing lead to what voice injuries.

Teaching piano in a university as well as privately. I would also like to promote classical music, especially to young people.

The Deeper Questions

Each of the last three questions on the survey has its own separate post, with answers in mostly randomized order:

4. What are some challenges you have faced during your study of classical music? (Mental, financial, physical, circumstantial, etc.)

5. What are some unique or valuable traits that you offer to the world and/or culture of classical music?

6. What are some changes you would like to see in the world and/or culture of classical music?

Again, thank you to everyone for giving me feedback, participating in or promoting the survey, or even just expressing interest in the results! I hope the results are as interesting and beneficial to you as they were to me.