Who is Oddly Noted?
Kathleen Strahm, creator of Oddly Noted, is an accomplished young violinist, a budding comedian and video presenter, and a creative arts-production entrepreneur.
Dr. Strahm receives high praise from music educators and performing artists for her artistic abilities. Audience members, whether in concert halls or on the Internet, credit her remarkable talent and style of delivery for their renewed interest in classical music.
Strahm completed her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in violin performance at Arizona State University in 2017. While in school, she received ongoing support from her individual instructor, coaches, professors, and peers. For both her masters and her doctoral degrees, Strahm was offered a teaching assistantship, giving individual violin lessons to non-major, music education and music therapy majors at a variety of different levels.
Strahm proactively created a niche for herself as a musician, educator, and performing artist. Since her interests were more focused on chamber and solo performance, she was concerned with the decrease in available jobs as well as the declining interest of the public toward classical music. Inspired by some of the greats in classical music comedy such as Victor Borge, Peter Schickele, and Alexsey Igudesman, Strahm decided to take a risk and create a comedic musical brand for herself called “Oddly Noted.” The aim of Oddly Noted is to make classical music human again. The musical brand is in its early days for Strahm, but its aim is based on an art-form worth celebrating.
Prior to the 18th century, all music was viewed as entertainment, but as social classes began to develop in the U.S., certain art forms split into high art and low-brow categories. Cultural establishments were set aside for the improvement of civilization, while popular music was limited to the dance halls and the element of comedy with it. This division can be seen prominently in the composition world, as music of the Classical period includes numerous examples of wit, comedy, and even bits of crude humor, while the Romantic era distances itself from such frivolities. Even Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, written as a fun composition, was never premiered publicly during the composer’s life for fear that it would destroy his reputation as a serious composer. The concept of high art reached a boom in classical music in the early 1900s, but once inventions such as radio and television entered the scene making popular music more available, high art/high-brow music began to falter.
Now in the 2000s, the decline of audiences in classical music concert halls reflects popular taste (or as you might say, popular distaste) for classical music. Dr. Bonita M. Kolb, a published expert on marketing in cultural organizations, explains:
Society is only now moving away from the resulting secularization of culture that started in the 18th century and was with us for most of the 20th century. In the 21st century, people no longer are willing to accept being treated as uneducated outcasts who must be taught what culture is best and how it should be enjoyed.
Combining humor in performances of classical music is one way to engage the public and break down the high-brow stigma or stuffiness associated with classical music.
Embarking on a research experiment to promote classical music and carve out her own musical career in a way that may eventually help other musicians, Ms. Strahm formed Oddly Noted – a platform and brand to develop and produce original comedic music sketches that combine classical music with light-hearted delivery. Ms. Strahm’s early sketches have been performed live as well as distributed online publicly via the Internet as Oddly Noted productions.
As of 2017, Strahm has written, directed, filmed, published, and maintains about sixty short online videos on the “Oddly Noted 7” YouTube channel. She has created and maintains a Facebook page and Twitter account community of about 100 subscribers, and has produced a live comedic classical music recital at Arizona State University (ASU). Her live performances are a collaboration of ASU graduate students, none of which had extensive experience in comedy or acting. The shows included elements of popular/classical genre fusion, musical choreography, and technology. Strahm uploads new material monthly, forever challenging the high-art connotations of classical music!