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How to Listen to Classical Music

How to Listen to Classical Music

If you want to listen to classical music but are unable to really enjoy it or like it, then this article is for you. It will help you understand how you can learn to like and enjoy classical music.
Foram Mehta
Classical music has been an integral part of our lives, directly or indirectly. We have been exposed to many classical music pieces used in commercials, as background music in movies, in cartoons and even in video games. Take an example, a classical piece called 'O Fortuna', has been used in various media forms. Also, music pieces by Beethoven and Mozart have been used in cartoons, for example, 'Tom and Jerry' and in sitcoms, for example, 'South Park' and 'The Simpsons'. Ever since we entered school, Beethoven's and Mozart's music was recommended for listening to improve our memory and concentration power, and sometimes serving as a lullaby. I am sure that we all have heard some piece or notes of classical music, even if we didn't know we were listening to it or even if we didn't know who the artist was.

If your dilemma is, that you like listening to heavy metal, psychedelic rock, or pop music and you don't really like listening to classical music, how will you ever develop a liking for it. Then, I am here to tell you how. You tried listening to classical music, but couldn't hold on to it for long because it didn't seem fun or intriguing enough, right? This feeling is normal. I went through the same before, and have now discovered my love and interest for it. I am going to explain, how you could listen to classical music and enjoy it, just the way I did.

How to Enjoy Listening to Classical Music

Don't Listen to it While Working Out
Why most of us avoid listening to classical music is because, most of the time we listen to music, while performing some physical activity; such as, dancing, walking, jogging and working out in the gym. Classical music is definitely not the kind of music that will make you tap your feet or make you dance. So, you will have to hear it when you are not undergoing any sort of physical exertion.

Listen to it in the Dark
In contrast to the other popular music genres like pop and hip-hop which gets your adrenaline pumping, classical music is said to have a soporific, and a soothing effect. So, hear it when you are in a relaxed frame of mind and not in a commotion. You can listen to classical music either when you are going to sleep or even in the morning, if you rise early. Why?? That's because when you are about to sleep or when you get up early, your mind is relatively free and less occupied. That is when classical music will suit your mood and your state of mind.

Listen to the Melody
If you are listening to classical music for the lyrics, then you are not going to listen to it for long. So, what you are supposed to hear in classical music is, its melody. Pay attention to how the music weaves and notes flow. Listen to the variations in rhythm and try identifying the different instruments played in the piece. This will keep you intrigued to the piece you are listening to.

The Music Takes Time to Seep in
It's not a bad thing, if you don't have a liking for classical music. But, if you think that you will be able to like it in one go, after reading this article, then that would be a pretty irrational expectation. When you start any sort of new activity, it will take some time for you to get accustomed to it. It's similar to what happens when you listen to classical music at first. The best way is, when you are alone, working on something or reading a book, let it play in the background. Unconsciously and gradually, classical music will dwell into your mind.

Close your Eyes and Feel
The best way to understand classical music is by closing your eyes and imagining anything that first comes to your mind. You could imagine yourself performing any activity or, if you can't imagine anything and you are blank, then just focus on the music and try to visualize how this music would have been created. Imagine an orchestra playing it and try to figure out all the musical instruments played in the piece.

Every Piece Has a Meaning
Every piece in classical music is meant for a reason. Each piece, though they may have less or no lyrics in them, has a story to narrate. Emotions like anger, love, pain, and beauty are all expressed in the form of variations in music. You will clearly understand it, after you have heard and understood a few pieces.

"Classical music is the kind we keep thinking will turn into a tune."

The above line is such a fantastic quote by Frank McKinney Hubbard about classical music. It totally describes how a person who is new to classical music will feel at first. It can feel like a minimalist music piece, but it's more dynamic. Classical music has a broader variety of forms, rhythms and styles. The characteristics of classical music cannot be defined or restricted to a few set of points. Once you have developed an understanding of this music, you will soon be able to enjoy it, whenever you hear it.

While you are doing the above mentioned things, research a little bit about all the classical 'master composers' like Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Mozart, Schoenberg, Haydn, Stravinsky, Schumann, Brahms, Schubert, Handel, Bach, and Debussy. Make a list of their best music pieces and listen to them.

Must-listen-to Classics

I am giving you a 'listening list' of a few of the best classical music pieces, which you can start listening to, and they are as follows:
  • Symphony Number 5 - by Beethoven
  • Piano concertos 20, 21 - by Mozart
  • Carmen - by Bizet
  • Rite of Spring - by Stravinsky
  • "Pathétique" and "Moonlight" Piano Sonatas - by Beethoven
  • "Death and the Maiden" String Quartet - by Schubert
  • Brandenburg Concertos - by Bach
  • "Pathétique" Symphony - by Tchaikovsky
  • Lord Nelson Mass - by Haydn
  • Piano Trio No. 1 - by Brahms
It's just like the phenomenon described in the book 'Eat, Pray, Love', a bestseller by Elizabeth Gilbert, featuring herself when she is trying to chant a 'mantra' and how she finds it to be annoying and absolutely unlikable. She later understands that the 'Mantra' was affecting her so much because it was changing her and becoming a part of her. I think that is exactly what will happen when you will begin to learn to listen and enjoy classical music. You will initially want to run away from it, but later you will love it, and enjoy it.