Where to actually start if you want to start listening to classical music

Where to actually start if you want to start listening to classical music

One of the most common questions people ask me is this: “I want to get into listening to classical music. Where do I start?”

I’ve covered this topic in a general manner in the past (like here), but sometimes it’s most helpful to get actual, concrete advice for starting a smart hobby. Classical music is incredibly vast – that’s what makes it seem intimidating to people who are new to it. It can seem like there are so many composers, and each composer wrote so many pieces… where would someone even begin listening?

I’m going to let you in on a secret. Yes, there are tons and tons and tons of classical music composers, both living and dead. TONS. And yes, the particularly prolific dead ones wrote hundred and hundreds of pieces of music. But here’s the secret. If you wanted to learn about, say, The Beatles, you wouldn’t start with the deep cuts, right? You’d start with the greatest hits collection. 

To get into listening to classical music, you start with the greatest hits…

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Understanding the Old to Appreciate the New

Understanding the Old to Appreciate the New

There’s a really interesting movement happening right now in university musicology classes (that’s the study of music history, music making, and music in general). In fact, I’m told, it’s happening across a lot of disciplines. Remember your “Intro to…” classes in university? Maybe you took “Introduction to French Poetry”, or “Introduction to American Politics.” So long as the topic was in the humanities, I bet dollars to donuts your class was at least largely taught in chronological order. I.e., “let’s start with the Roman Empire and work our way forward.” Well, apparently, this is falling by the wayside…

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Wonderfully Lazy Classical Music Love

Wonderfully Lazy Classical Music Love

Yesterday I wrote about why it takes some effort to become a true fine arts fan (again, sorry, but it’s true and it’s worth it). I also mentioned in that post, however, that sometimes I’m all about a little casual arts enjoyment. As a hardcore classical music lover (and former classical musician), of course I’m all about knowing everything about the works I listen to… most of the time. But now and then, I’m down for some passive, easy listening…

So today I’m telling you how I like to casually listen to classical music. Teaser: it makes me feel super classy, keeps me calm and focused, and is a great way to take a refreshing breather…

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The Three Types of Knowledge You Need to be a Fan of the Arts

The Three Types of Knowledge You Need to be a Fan of the Arts

So… I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I’m so pumped to teach you how to love the fine arts more than you ever knew you could. The bad news is that you have to put in the work to get there.

Sorry! (And sorry for the “sorry” – I’m Canadian, I can’t help it.) The fine arts take time to understand. Sure, there are lots of effortless ways to start being a fan of the arts, and I love to share those here and through social media. That stuff is gold, for sure. But to get to the real juiciness that is loving the arts, you’re going to have to put in some effort.

To my mind, at least, that’s a good thing. A lot of things that are quick and easy to understand and derive pleasure from are shallow. They’re not the interests, hobbies, and passions that sustain you and colour your whole life; instead, they’re reality TV and snack food (which have their time and place, but man cannot live on Love Island and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos alone).

So, what exactly do you need to learn before you can truly appreciate the fine arts? Three things. For each of the fine arts – to be a true fan – you need to develop three areas of knowledge…

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The Biggest Skill Non-Performers Can Learn From Performing Artists

The Biggest Skill Non-Performers Can Learn From Performing Artists

I’m currently reading an incredible book about, in essence, releasing the ego and stopping the voice in your head from messing everything up. It’s called Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, by Joe Dispenza (the bleakest title ever, I know), and it is extremely woo woo, but extremely good. And it’s got me thinking about performing artists, and the biggest skill everyone could learn from them.

Dispenza’s work is essentially about visualizing the type of person you want to be in such vivid detail that you feel it in your body. To do this, one of the essential skills you need to learn is how to be master over your thoughts and quiet down that voice in your head that talks to you all day...

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