Jul 9, 2013

Classical Music Is So Relaxing!

Or is it? One of the things frequently said about classical music is: “I love classical music because it’s so relaxing!” When I encounter this observation I can only think to myself: “Surely you’re not referring to something like the finale of the Shostakovich Symphony No. 5.”

I’m guessing the individual has something in mind more like the second movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21. And if that is the case. . .does it mean that for such individuals ‘classical music’ consists strictly of gentle, leisurely paced movements in major keys?

are-you-listening puppy dogIf it does, I would encourage following ‘The Path of The Discovery Orchestra.’ First, explore the difference between hearing and listening. From that starting place, begin the practice of attentively noticing detail around the elements of music: rhythm, melody, texture, harmony, dynamics, timbre and form. From there one may begin to experience the myriad of emotional states that are expressed in wordless, abstract music. Even a movement such as the Mozart above, which begins in such a relaxed almost naive state, progresses through some rather intense, dare I say, even painful moments.

So, if we play recorded classical music for ourselves to help us relax, is that a bad thing? Certainly not – and far be it from me to take away anyone’s formula for achieving emotional equilibrium! If you already have your list of ‘favorite relaxing pieces of classical music’ – keep that resource handy for use ‘as needed’ as the OTC prescription bottles say.

But might you permit me to suggest considering ‘getting a little more for you money’. . .that is, expanding your definition of classical music? If you’re willing to learn to listen with your undivided attention to some of the ‘top 100 pieces of classical music’ (and there are many such lists; any one of them will do) you may just find that some of your innermost, otherwise inexpressible feelings have been disarmingly communicated there by the likes of Mozart, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff. The resulting emotional catharsis you may experience could add a whole new dimension to the words ‘classical music.’ Hey, if you’re reading this and haven’t yet enlarged your classical music horizons is it worth an honest try? Feel free to use our Discover Orchestra Chats as an entry point!

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