Young violinist tells Simon Cowell he hasn’t a clue about music

Young violinist tells Simon Cowell he hasn’t a clue about music


norman lebrecht

June 18, 2016

The Nottingham violinist Braimah Kanneh-Mason, 18, appeared on Britain’s Got Talent. Here‘s what he remembers:

Braimah Kanneh-Mason
In the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent, Simon Cowell said, ‘It’s nice to see you’re happy, because a lot of people are quite miserable when they play this kind of music.’ Of course, on stage I had to smile but I was thinking, ‘No, they’re not miserable. There’s concentration and there’s being miserable, and they are two different things.’

It’s a shame that classical music has the image of being middle class and very serious. There are a variety of reasons for it, one being that music is expensive, so you only get a certain type of people doing it. I think a lot of people just haven’t had a chance to just listen to it, especially young people.”

Read the full interview here.


  • Paul Wright says:

    Indeed. I’d be fascinated to know how the nonsensical headline can possibly be justified: what is reported of the exchange with Simon Cowell suggests that Braimah had (unsurprisingly) much more of a clue than his host evinced by his question. The issue of ‘clues’ does, interestingly, arise in a quite different context elsewhere in the interview when he describes his teacher’s tip on improving memory retention by association, a technique which I have found especially useful in language learning.

    • pooroperaman says:

      Erm, that’s precisely what the headline does say: ‘Violinist tells Cowell he [Cowell] hasn’t a clue’.

      It’s just a shame that he [violinist] didn’t tell him [Cowell] this to his face on national TV.

    • Emil says:

      It doesn’t have to be justified; it only has to get you to click on the article.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Interesting that in the UK view, “middle class” is something lofty.

  • Marg says:

    A delightful and intelligent young man talking about his passion, about which he has many “clues”. I have no problem with the headline by the way, it’s there to pique interest and since I can’t stand Cowell it did that very thing.

  • Holly Golightly says:

    Cowell was just being a tool, playing to his audiences!! He has to watch circus acts and singers who shriek; obviously he has not been able to finesse talent and styles as a result of these experiences – either that or he just needs to get out more.

    • Nick says:

      “Not being able to finesse talent” has brought him a fortune in excess of $500 million and an annual income close to $100 million. I doubt if he is going to change his mind and get out more any time soon!

  • Gerhard says:

    The count of comments is eight. Interesting. And there is still the discrepancy between the headline and what Braimah Kanneh-Mason really says in his lovely interview.