Tradition versus Innovation

Tradition is a good thing. Keeping the ways of the past is a very important ingredient in making sense of things. Tradition gives context, history, meaning and weight to our lives. Honoring the past, keeping it significant in the present does matter. All of what we have in every museum says that what happened in the past is important. The people who wrote down what happened, who painted, who sculpted, who built, who created expressions that have come down to the present moment saved for those who came after, give us a sense of what was, of why it was and for whom. Without that, we would have no way to measure where we are now, and plan where we are to go in the future. Those who are responsible for maintaining what has been, so that it does not degrade, or become disrespected, perform a very valuable service.

Innovation, on the other hand, is also a good thing. Without innovation there would never be anything new. There would never be a way to break out of what has always been done in the past. The paths of the past would become prisons. Life is always creating itself newly in each moment. Not allowing things to change is always a mistake, as change is the only constant in all of life.

It isn’t uncommon, however, for these two ideas to end up in some type of conflict. The traditionalists argue with the innovators. Those who would break with the past confront those who hold the past with reverence.

We need both of these things. We cannot do without them. We need to know and understand the past and we need to innovate in the present moment. They are necessary to each other. It is difficult to “break out” and change something when you do not know what that something is or how it got there. It is difficult to “innovate” when your innovation might, in fact, be something that has always been done, it’s just that you personally did not know that.

It is possible to be an excellent singer of any style, and it is very important to understand the history of that style, and what created the parameters of it. It is also possible to break away from that style and do something in a way that is a deliberate break in tradition. Classical singing does not oppose rock and roll or gospel music. They are simply two very different ways of using the throat while making music. It is possible to be a traditionalist and an innovator at the same time. Yes, it is very possible.

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