Thursday, June 14, 2007

Silence is Golden

You may think this is a bit random, but...this issue has come up in virtually every figure drawing class or drawing group I've ever attended. What exactly is the issue in question?

Whether or not to listen to music while everyone is drawing.

This isn't a trivial matter; folks on opposite sides of the issue can get ugly about it. And, despite the fact that I love music...and, when I'm drawing on my own at home, I usually have music, (or talk radio), playing in the is my opinion that figure drawing groups & classes should not have music playing.

Here's why: people have widely varying opinions on this issue. Even the ones who do want to have music playing, will usually have widely varying ideas on just what sort of music thay want to hear. One person may want to listen to Judas Priest. Another may want to hear Enya. Ultimately, even if everyone agrees to have music playing, there will be some portion of the group who can't stand the music choice. So, now they will be forced to be creative and be drawing to the best of their ability while music they hate is being forced upon them. Not a great situation for producing quality drawings.

And then, there's the situation where everyone wants music playing except for one person in the group. So, now that one person is put into the pressure situation of either going along with the group, or voicing their opposition and feeling the wrath of the group. Again, not a great situation for producing quality drawings. (And why should anyone have to feel that sort of pressure in a drawing group? Isn't producing quality drawings enough to be concerned with, without having to be worried about alienating the rest of the group with your musical preferences?).

I say....stop the insanity! The only fair, reasonable, and easy way to get around all this drama is to institute a no music rule in the drawing room. Trust me, you'll all be better off, and it will save a lot of drama and hurt feelings.

I know, I're screaming to yourself..."what about i-pods?". Well, that's fine, as long as you make sure the volume is low enough to not be overheard by your fellow artists. In a quiet drawing room, that tinny buzz coming from your headphones can be incredibly annoying. My advice if you're going to go the i-pod route.... before you put on the earphones, tell the artists on either side of you, "please let me know if this is loud enough to bother you, and I'll be glad to turn it down". And do it, with a smile, if they say it is!

My long-time figure drawing professor in Geneseo, Rosemary Teres, always insisted that having music playing in class was a bad idea, and that it would hinder learning. Back then, I didn't agree, but now...I can see her point. For the good of everyone, and the group as a whole... keep it silent. And, on a related note... please, for heaven's sake, turn off your freakin' cell phone before the drawing session begins!


Anonymous said...

what about some soft music with no vocals? that might be something no one wold object to.

Fossfor said...

definitley no music, it wrecks your concentration... I find it hard enough to concetrate with other people around and teachers creeping up on you making comments ;)

Fred Wemyss said...

I'm a writer, but I think a bond between creative people qualifies me to weigh in on this issue. I love music. If I'm writing an email I don't worry about whether or not there's music as I'm writing. But if I'm trying to put together a short story I find music disruptive. Even as I write this I can think of countless times when I've been playing music and an inspiration causes me to write a line for a story down even while music is playing, but I still feel that when I sit down to make a concentrated effort, shutting out music, because it is someone else's artistic expression, is necessary.
I don't mind traffic whizzing by, people laughing and shouting in the next room or machinery rattling. But if someone puts the TV on and I'm hearing a voice coaxing me to buy a car or a news anchor making insinuations, my urge to create diminishes. But music, as beautiful or empowering as it is, playing while I'm trying to create, with words, something similar to music, is intolerable. (Some emails I write are meant to evoke a mood as well, and I shut the music off when I'm writing those.)
Also, I imagine, in a drawing class, music effects each artist differently. Silence, at least, provides common ground.

Chris - from Melbourne, Australia said...

I tend to disagree on this one, but of course it depends what music it is.
I regularly participated in a "casual" life drawing class for 2 years (It was held in the upstairs function room of a Pub. We were served wine to sip on whilst we drew, and had a break with an antipasto platter in the middle. It was great because it was a relaxed atmosphere, even if we sat at tables).
Whilst we drew we always had music on, which was usually jazz. Our instructor played in a latin band so he would also occasionally bring in some of his favourites. The class was diverse in age and we all loved the fact that our group was so close, casual and accepting.
In my workplace (I teach The Arts at a Primary School level), I cannot work most of the time if there is pure silence or talking: there has to be music. My students always ask if they can have the music on whilst they work too, where they usually have to listen to quite diverse genres of music loaded onto the computer. I'll often have students ask me about a particular song that's playing, because they want to have their own copy of the track.
I can understand both sides of the argument, but I guess I'm one of those people that needs music to get things done!