Classical music and (unintentional) elitism

The other day I read a comment that really annoyed me about how normal people just can't get classical music, so classical musicians have a gift that they should share with the world.

I am fully in support of the second part. I think art music might be complex, but it's amazingly fun to make and I want as many people as possible to have the chance to make that music. The first part? Not so much.

I'm one of those "normal people" (well, not quite, but I'll come onto that later). I'm not a particularly talented musician, mostly because while I like music it doesn't have the same attraction for me that other subjects do. I got into music because of my amazing, gifted director John and because of practising a lot. That's all that happened. I don't have some sort of special classical music organ (pun unintended - sorry!) in my body. I'm an average schmo who trained a bit. I don't deserve to be elevated to an elite class. People who don't have my training don't deserve to be kicked downstairs.

Well, I lied; I'm not quite average. You see, I come from a well-heeled middle-class family. This means that my parents were able to pay for music lessons, send me to a private school where I met the amazing music director, allow me to stay behind to perform, let me go on get the picture. Money, the desire for cultural capital and my mother being a music teacher all contributed.

Actually, I'd go so far as to say that money is what set me apart. True, no amount of money will make up for a lack of passion or practice, but when music education in this country is a lottery and not so many schools or families can afford tuition, let alone instrument costs, being able to pay for lessons or going to a school where they have a decent music budget is a huge barrier. Believe me (and others) when we say that this barrier has a huge effect on who ends up being able to seriously pursue music.

I really do believe that normal people can get classical music and that one of the many reasons people don't is lack of exposure. I have to admit that this is partly idealism. But I also think that the idea of classical musicians being somehow apart from the rest of us ordinary mortals is damaging for everyone.