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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The bare minimum you need to know about music theory

The bare minimum you need to know about music theory

I think part of what gets people hung up about embracing the fine arts is that they assume you need to be an expert to enjoy them. That you need to have taken a university class in it, or have studied it as a kid. 

Hogwash.

Let me level with you. I have a master’s degree in classical music, and it’s not like I sit in a concert hall thinking things like “ho ho! What a clever use of the secondary dominant in the passacaglia section. Clever bastard – he leans heavily on the Neopolitan, but it really works! It really works, by god!

Out of all the musicians I know, only maybe two listen to music that way, and they’re composers.

Myth busting time! Classical musicians are NOT sitting there listening and seeing the music notes and chords and technical markings light up in their minds, like this…

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How to get into orchestral music using YouTube

How to get into orchestral music using YouTube

One of the things I think we’ve all gotten wrong about “arts appreciation” for a long time is the idea that, to do it right, you need to see it live. This is because most talk about arts appreciation comes from arts organizations who need to sell tickets, and arts advocates who want to do everything they can to ensure artistic organizations don’t go under and leave cultural wastelands in their absence. Because arts administrators and advocates are people who really truly know how essential the arts are to our wellbeing, our society, and our very existence, they do everything in their power to protect the institutions that safeguard and present art to the people.

And I know some people are going to misunderstand me about this, possibly forever, so I want to be very explicit: those people are doing GOD’S WORK. Arts administrators, advocates, activists, donors, board members – you are the backbone of the world of art. You are what allows the collective body of art to live and flourish. Without you, we have no living, breathing system. We have nowhere to go, nothing to see. You are champions.

But, the problem with arts appreciation being tied to the support of institutions for the sake of keeping them alive is a bit complex. My overall theory is that the barrier to entry (that thing in your head that goes “oh boy, that seems too hard/expensive/scary for me”) for getting started with arts appreciation is too high for most people. That’s often because, when arts appreciation education is presented by an institution, it’s linked to their current offerings. Which is great! I love it! Please, please don’t stop doing this! BUT. If you don’t know anything about theatre, it’s not going to help to go to a panel discussion about aesthetics in Oscar Wilde’s plays. It’s just not.

Which brings me to classical music. You guys, my husband is a professional orchestral musician. I go to the symphony more than once a week. I go see other orchestras when I travel. I’m a raving fanatic for going to the symphony! If you’ve never been, go go go! But, why don’t we also try lowering your barrier to entry. Which is why, today I want to tell you about how awesome watching orchestral music on YouTube is…

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How do I pick classical music to listen to?

How do I pick classical music to listen to?

The number one thing people ask me when I explain that my mission is to bring people back to the fine arts is something along the lines of, “great, but where do I start?”. And very often, these conversations include a story about “trying to listen to classical music.”

Oof! Nothing breaks my heart like a story about trying to like art and failing/not continuing/giving up on it despite being interested/liking what you heard/saw. THAT IS THE SYSTEM FAILING YOU!

So let’s talk about listening to classical music and the age-old “where do I even start?” question. Let me help you help yourself, friend. 

Here are a few reasons you don’t know how to pick classical music to listen to, and the answer to your problem. You’re welcome in advance… 

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