Classical Music 101 - How to "Get It"

Boston Symphony Hall
Boston Symphony Hall, September 2017

My name is Taylor, *Hi Taylor*, and welcome to my first blog post! So you’re trying to “get” classical music. I welcome you and can assure you that this a safe space. Raise your hand if you identify with any of the following: 1) I did sports in high school so I was not a band geek, but this one time at band camp… 2). I can make a sick road trip playlist but I will fall asleep if I listen to Batch (Bach). Or most likely you identify with, 3). it was something that was never really in my life before but I want to get into classical music and actually enjoy it! Well you’re in luck because today we are going to demystify classical music. First let me say, it’s okay if you don’t “get it!” I was basically born into classical music - I started taking ballet lessons before I could walk and I had many family members who played instruments, so for me, it just made sense.

The thing about classical music that draws us nerds in is this almost indescribable feeling when you hear a piece that surpasses anything you have heard before. You suddenly have found inner peace and have even deemed Debussy as your new Guru who you will worship all day, every day. But not every piece of classical music makes you feel that way and that’s OK. Personally, I don’t feel connected to Baroque music the way I do with the French Impressionist style. It takes time and a lot of listening to figure out what genre of classical music makes you feel transcendental. So where do you start? It’s actually quite simple - it’s something you’ve probably already done: go to concerts! If you live around colleges with a music program, there are free concerts all. the. time. Chances are, seeing a live performance will engage you a lot more than just listening to something and hoping it will spark. Many professional musicians, when asked about what inspired them to go into this profession, will talk about a time they saw a performance. If you’re a visual learner, concerts will be right up your alley. If you can find a program that has collaborations as well, your mind will be blown. I recently went to a concert that had an orchestra, a choir, and ballet dancers - it was one of the coolest concerts I’ve been to and I was so engaged the whole time.

And just like popular music, there is basically classical music for every mood. You can easily make a break up playlist to the 6th Tchaikovsky (Chai-kov-ski) Symphony as you can make a pregame playlist to Bernstein. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch but you get the point. Classical music is constantly evolving and composers are constantly redefining what “classical music” is. You may fall head over heels for contemporary music. Literally. Some composers give the performer instructions for movement - it's really cool!

To give you your first starter kit for classical music, I have attached a playlist below I made on Spotify. In all honesty, I was biased and included some of my favorite works that make my heart explode, but like I said, it might not be for you, and that’s okay. Let me know your thoughts below or if you have any suggestions for a “Classical Music 101 Starter Kit!”

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear from you - feel free to send me an email or follow me on Instagram @Taylorflute!

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