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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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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In Defence of Fine Arts Classics

In Defence of Fine Arts Classics

The classics get such a bad rap these days. Most fine arts organizations currently seem quite eager to program new works, as well as newly discovered old works, and there SO MANY good and important reasons for this (the most important of which is the slow dismantling of the patriarchy and colonialism). Amen to all the artistic directors out there who are making room for historically underrepresented artists. I will literally NEVER argue with that.

What I will argue FOR is continuing to celebrate the classics right alongside these fantastic, previously uncelebrated, new works. And if you’re not a musician or actor or artist yourself, perhaps you’re like, “well, of course!” But, that’s not how everyone feels...

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15 of the Most Famous Ballets in 2 Sentences Each

15 of the Most Famous Ballets in 2 Sentences Each

Ballet plots can be RIDICULOUSLY convoluted… but that doesn’t mean they have to be complicated. Here are fifteen of the greatest ballets of all time, boiled down into two sentences each. I mean, it’s really all you need to know!

1.     Giselle

A peasant girl falls in love with a disguised (and already betrothed) nobleman who, unsurprisingly, breaks her heart, so she goes crazy and dies. A band of supernatural revenge-seeking lady ghosts rouse her spirit, and despite her pleas to spare the bastard, they get payback.

2.     Swan Lake

A depressed prince sets off to hunt some swans, but then one of them turns into a hot babe…

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