I am not one for New Year’s resolutions.
It is great to set goals but we need to be working on self improvement all year round! Time and time again people set a goal that is lofty in January and give up by February because it was too difficult and decide to wait til next year.
Every year I have some general goals and dreams that revolve around learning more, reading more, making more money, being more mentally, physically and spiritually fit and secretly hoping to find love. As many of you know I am more successful at some of those goals than others but it gives me a lot of room to make improvement and the generality doesn’t hinder my focus, it actually allows me to be more creative and flexible about what I want to do to make myself better and alleviates the pressure to get one finite thing done.
I can do anything anyway so why not do lots of anythings on a whim as they come to me?
This year’s biggest whim is I want to listen to more classical music.
From the age of 6 til the age of 17 I played classical music year round on the piano and learned at the hands of a skilled German pianist Mrs. Tyler. She taught all my brothers and sisters. My brother Geroid was always the superior pianist though and after a while my focus on a bunch of other activities caused me to drift away from playing but I never lost my love of the music.
I read online somewhere that a mere 30 minutes a day of classical music can greatly relieve your stress.
Well, I have a pretty stressful job and being me (whimsical, passionate, impulsive and sometimes isolated) can be stressful at times too just because of my personality traits. So I decided that along with my other general personal improvement goals I was going to listen to 2 hours a day of classical music to improve my knowledge of it and eliminate stress (2 goals in one).
I have found it infinitely relaxing when I am at work. I usually get my 2 hours in there and it seriously makes the most annoying of situations pass by whimsically. It feels like work is apart of some grand performance I’m in when I’m listening to the music. Each song that comes and goes takes with it a moment out of my day and dramatizes it in a fun way that would have me half spinning to a bathroom break or taking a bow after successfully completing a task.
I didn’t even have to purchase any music, I simply created a Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart station on my Pandora and let it do the work for me. It has sailed into and out of some great periods of music for me, baroque, romantic, classical and even contemporary composers and kept me intrigued by the sheer talent that each of these artists had to have possessed to create such glorious works.
When I listen to classical music I am always in awe that this tune did not exist before the moment that this person composed it. And there weren’t recording devices in a great many of these composers’ cases so they just wrote these beautiful songs and sometimes played them once and never again and mainly in “polite”company. And then back to the composing board.
I feel infinitely lucky to even be experiencing this music, and to be further learning about the style and specialties of each composer as the playlist expands and flourishes through the different periods and works. And as I have myself pledged to read more books about their works to broaden my own knowledge in the coming year.
I’ve found one of my all time personal favorite songs is probably the Waltz of the Flowers from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.
I have always really liked Tchaikovsky’s work though ever since I was a child. Having seen Black Swan now as an adult I’m even more impressed with the work he did with Swan Lake. I also really enjoy, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, and Chopin for various reasons. Probably because they’re all great. And I love great.
Today as I was listening to my classical music station (today I listened for about 4 hours instead of 2) I wondered to myself had I always appreciated classical music? I feel as though I have. That I have always at least found it fascinating even if it wasn’t the number 1 thing in my iPod or bursting in prominence in my CD collection. I still had always known some of the songs and then I remembered that it was not only my German piano teacher that exposed me to the music, but older cartoons, mainly Looney Tunes that had shaped my perceptions of the music as a child.
Older cartoons I believe used classical music because it was in the public domain, already composed and therefore easiest to use when creating their shorts. How lucky for me because those days in front of the television did manage to teach me a thing or two without me realizing it.
Forever when I hear music from Rossini’sThe Barber of Seville I will think of that scene, well the entire episode really. And I remember thinking the music was so cool then watching the cartoon as a child but I never realized it was classical music I was being schooled and as I was being entertained by Bugs and Elmer.
And I can never hear Wagner’s the Ride of The Valkyries without thinking “Kill da wabbit! Kill da wabbit!”
A couple of other videos concerning the Looney Tunes and classical music:
Those images and many more helped to shape my love for classical music I believe at an early age when I didn’t even realize what a gift the appreciation for it was. It’s amazing to think of how many songs I first heard to the antics of cartoon characters and how just the recognition of the song coming up on my Pandora can bring back such fond memories.
I pity any kid who doesn’t get to grow up on Looney Tunes or some of the other older cartoons. They’re missing out on a starter course in classical music that they would never even realize they are taking! Perhaps other cartoons have picked up the ball, I’m not sure. I haven’t seen such evidence but I think they should keep those cartoons in rotation just for that reason. Kids should be exposed to this music in anyway possible, and not all of them will make it to the symphony, play an instrument or come across it in other ways that require an extra bit of effort.
But it should be heard.
Because it is therapeutic to listen to, I’ve found. It is art and these are some of the greatest compositions our civilization has managed to create and a testament to the passion, creativity and desire to share that creativity that the human spirit possesses. Some pieces take you away in their beauty and others build to a climax that leave you spent at their beauty when they conclude. Even without words in many cases these songs can make you feel amazing things. Still hundreds of years from before the music of passionate driven composers can speak to us and communicate so much without ever uttering a word. How could you not be in awe?
Some personal favorite pieces listed in no particular order, grouped by composer, some chosen for not being very well known and with an occasional youtube video for easy access:
1. Piano Concerto No 24. in C minor- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
2. Clarinet Concerto in A Major-Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
3. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik-Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (this one is probably most recognizable to people)
4. The 1812 Overture-Pyotr Tchaikovsky
5. Symphony No 6- Pyotr Tchaikovsky
6. Violin Concerto in D Major- Pyotr Tchaikovsky
7. Symphony No 3 In E Flat Major- Ludwig van Beethoven ( a very cool not extremely well known piece)
8. “The Moonlight Sonata”- Ludwig Van Beethoven
9. Waltz in D Flat- Frederic Chopin
10. Nocturne in C Major-Chopin- Frederic Chopin
Just off the top of my head. The other advantage of course to all of that when someone says something stupid I don’t like, I can be like Lisa Simpson:
And have a very extensive collection to choose from.
This has really been a pick me up for me. I hope some of you give a few of these pieces a listen or perhaps create your own favorite composer’s station on Pandora. You’d be surprised what a little bit of listening a day can do for your soul.