You’re Listening to Classical Music Wrong

By Georgia Wyess

Classical music just might be the ultimatum of  music. In an age where the majority of modern pop-songs revolve around the same three notes, pieces such as Claire De Lune and Requiem in D Minor are examples of pure creativity and raw emotion translated into beautiful scores; scores that move some to tears or bring them of joyous memories. Yet, it is a shame that many of you are listening to classical music wrong.

How is this possible? How is it fathomable to listen to a piece of music incorrectly? Well, how often do you find yourself actually listening to the piece when you turn it on. I would venture to say that you use it as background noise when completing homework, or you drift into a daydream, or you tune out the music completely. Understandably so. Considering that your mind is occupied by something other than the composition, it is  reasonable that you completely miss the emotion and complexity of the music. I too am guilty of this treason against beauty; I sometimes play classical music as I do my homework to drown out other worldly distractions.  Nonetheless, in my eyes it is imperative that each individual correctly listens to a piece of classical composition at least once in their lifetime. Just once, allow the melody to entrance you with its beauty and the weight of the piece push you down memory lane.

So now the question is, how do you listen to classical music correctly? The short answer: treat classical music like you would treat your favorite song. Allow me to explain. When your favorite song comes on the radio or gets shuffled on your Spotify playlist, you cannot simply continue just doing your work or talking to your friend or continue on in your daily task as if you have not a care in the world. This does not happen. You stop what you’re doing and sing the lyrics, dance to the beat, and completely lose yourself in the music. So what’s stopping you from doing the same with the classics? To listen to a piece of classical music correctly, you must stop what you’re doing, lean back in your chair, close your eyes, and completely submerge yourself in the fluidity of the score. When listening to the violins and the flutes and the piano come together and create a mellifluous sound, dance if you feel the urge, cry if you are saddened, and laugh if you’re brought joy.  In order to fully understand the emotion and meaning of the piece, I want to challenge you to think of a strong memory, one that elicits strong sentiment. Now that you have stopped what you’re doing and thought of a time from your childhood or of a loved one that has passed on, play a piece of classical music. Any piece. It doesn’t matter who the composer is or whether it’s a score written for an orchestra or a single pianist. Lean back in your chair and listen. Listen whole heartedly, you will see why people adore classical music beyond comprehension. 

With a simple understanding on the proper way of listening to classical music, I would like to recommend some of my personal favorite melodies. 

  • “Rêverie” by Claude Debussy: All classical composers have their own unique sound, but when listening to Debussy, it is as if you are dreaming. Rêverie has a very sweet sound yet an incredibly grounding tone that makes this piece unique. 
  • “Clair De Lune” by Claude Debussy: Definitely a classic piece that everyone knows. When I play Clair De Lune on the piano, I am aware that my fingers are manipulating the keys, however, my mind begins daydreaming instantly. There is something incredibly sweet and pleasant yet sad about this piece, as if you’re yearning for a happier time you will never be able to experience again. 
  • “Requiem In D-Minor” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Definitely a more dramatic composition. Makes me feel like I just overthrew the king and am now reigning over an entire empire.
  • “Liebestraum No.3 in A-Flat Major” by Franz Liszt: This is a very sweet piece and it’s one of my favorites for piano. I grew up listening to classical music but this is the piece that really inspired me to start listening to it more. The sound is very smooth and peaceful while also rich and filled with movement. 
  • “No.13 Dance Of The Knights” by Sergei Prokofiev: This is a piece written for the ballet Romeo and Juliet, yet, it’s an incredibly powerful and royal composition. The sound is decadent and makes me feel like I can take over the world.

With these recommendations, close your eyes and lean back in your chair as you listen to the true power of the music. Not only will your view on classical music change, but also, you might just fall in love.