For some people, classical music can feel like an exclusive club that’s not taking any new members. It can be difficult to understand the titles of musical pieces enough to find them, much less listen to and appreciate them. When a song is only known by its moniker as a number in a movement, it can be confusing to try to differentiate between works and find the ones that really make your heart sing. Luckily, the world of classical music is vast and diverse, with enough variety to tickle the fancy of any listener who gives it a chance. Here are a few sneaky techniques to discover your classical music sweet spot and develop an appreciation that may even grow into a lifelong love.
Look to the Children
It may seem a little silly, but children’s music can be an excellent introduction to the best and most popular works in classical music. Several children’s artists marry modern lyrics and instrumentation to beloved pieces from the past. These can be an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the genre and even memorize some popular refrains. Then, when you graduate to orchestral versions of these favorites, your brain will already know enough of the tune that you won’t get overwhelmed by the complexity and shut off your listening ears.
Close Your Eyes
Music of any kind is often best experienced with full immersion. Whether it’s coming from a group ensemble like a city orchestra or a solo performer like organist James Mellichamp, classical music can transport its listeners to another place and time. Take a break from your day, remove distractions, and just listen to the music. Avoid giving in to thoughts of your to-do list or being influenced by pre-conceived notions. Try to empty your mind and let the music act on you, without judging your reactions or the music. You may be surprised at how classical music can move you when you give it your full attention and trust the process.
Experiment and Explore
The term classical music encompasses an incredibly broad spectrum of unique styles and sounds. It can include anything from traditional sacred mass to postmodern experimental pieces. Classical music can include enormous orchestras or a single voice. It can be highly complex or heartrendingly simple. Some pieces can get your heart racing with anxiety, only to flip over to peaceful serenity a moment later. The emotional roller coaster of becoming immersed in a symphony or opera can be transcendent. On the other hand, many works of classical music can be quite accessible and relatable. The good news is there is so much variety in how classical music is both written and performed that there is literally something for everyone.
With a little bit of investment, the payout classical music can offer is immense and well-worth the effort. You may discover a new world opening up to you, teaching you new and insightful things about both the world and yourself. Like with any new undertaking, the adventure begins by taking that first step.