Following is the full transcript of English conductor Benjamin Zander’s TED Talk: The Transformative Power of Classical Music.
Benjamin Zander – English conductor
Probably a lot of you know the story of the two salesmen who went down to Africa in the 1900s. They were sent down to find if there was any opportunity for selling shoes, and they wrote telegrams back to Manchester.
And one of them wrote, “Situation hopeless. Stop. They don’t wear shoes.”
And the other one wrote, “Glorious opportunity. They don’t have any shoes yet.”
Now, there’s a similar situation in the classical music world, because there are some people who think that classical music is dying. And there are some of us who think you ain’t seen nothing yet. And rather than go into statistics and trends, and tell you about all the orchestras that are closing, and the record companies that are folding, I thought we should do an experiment tonight.
Actually, it’s not really an experiment, because I know the outcome. But it’s like an experiment.
Now, before we start — Before we start, I need to do two things. One is I want to remind you of what a seven-year-old child sounds like when he plays the piano. Maybe you have this child at home. He sounds something like this… (Music)… I see some of you recognize this child.
Now, if he practices for a year and takes lessons, he’s now eight and he sounds like this… (Music)… He practices for another year and takes lessons — he’s nine… (Music). Then he practices for another year and takes lessons — now he’s 10… (Music). At that point, they usually give up.