How to Appreciate Classical Music

The term classical music originates from the Latin term classic, which means person of the highest class. After being recognized in France, Germany, and America it took on another definition meaning formal and high of dignity. Classical music is commonly played with solo instruments , though opera and other forms include singers. Remember classical music is not just for old people (contrary to popular belief) but for every one from little children to young adults and so on.


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    Understand that not all classical music is the same. Some pieces are very fast and harsh, while others are very graceful, slow and light. Some music is done with a voice, some with string instruments, and some with woodwind and brass. Knowing what kind you like to listen to will make it a whole lot easier to listen as well.
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    Find out more about it, such as who it was composed by, whether it's been in any shows, and if it was appreciated at the time of its publishing.
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    Be willing to listen. You need to give it a chance to learn to like it. Listen to the notes, patterns, and small details. Notice what each instrument brings to the piece.
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    Try going to a live orchestral concert, choral concert, chamber concert, or band concert. Try to pick out the sounds of individual sections like the strings, woodwinds, brass or percussion. Discerning these components of the music can increase your appreciation of the piece. Then pick out individual instrument and see if you can hear the part they play.
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    Many churches, such as the Catholic church, have classical music influences in their liturgical music. Consider the religious message behind the music and how that influences the sound.
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    You can also learn how to play classical music. Classical instruments include flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, oboe, and even classical guitar. Get a good classically-trained teacher to start off.


  • If you love theater, literature, or film, or just enjoy a great story, you might find that attending an opera is a great way to start appreciating classical music.
  • Go to a "pops" concert. These are orchestral concerts, which usually feature shorter, more familiar classical pieces -- and/or popular music pieces played by the full orchestra -- that can ease you into more serious music.
  • Find composers that you like. If you enjoy the composers, you can listen to more of their work. If you like lighthearted, pretty pieces, try Mozart or Haydn. If you enjoy harsher, typically faster, more ear-filling music, go for Baroque with Handel or Bach. If sappy, romantic pieces are what you are looking for, try Beethoven or Liszt.
  • Remember that there are many classical pieces that are very famous. Some are even more famous than pieces from genres.
  • Don't listen to common stereotypes that classical music is for old people, boring, or all sounds the same. Classical music is actually one of the most broad, diverse forms of music and is used everywhere, from movie soundtracks to cartoons. There is a very large chance that there is a classical piece out there for any type of mood and taste; fast or slow, energetic or peaceful, and everything in between.
  • You probably already like and recognize many pieces of classical music that you aren't aware of. You may have heard "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" in Bambi; "Hungarian rhapsody No.2" in Tom and Jerry and Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker; and the Barber of Seville Overture from Bugs Bunny. These lovable pieces are only a few from the very diverse world of classical music, which offers so many opportunities.
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  • Try not to get stuck perpetually in "pops" music: try to move on to more serious music by listening to "greatest classical hits" albums. Often such CDs will have the best, shortest pieces. If you take these preliminary steps, you will subsequently find it easier to move on to full-length works by the most famous composers.
  • On the opposite, it could be very interesting to try to listen to relatively unknown composers, like Rosetti or Telemann for example, not included in the "classical music for everyone's ears", to develop a personal taste and opinion.
  • Be careful with contemporary classical music.
    • Contemporary music is extremely diverse. If you hear one piece you don't like, don't dismiss the whole field as pretentious. Move on to a different composer.
    • Contemporary pieces can express a wide variety of emotions, including anger and turmoil. Thus, don't expect all music will sound pleasant (think background music to a scene in a horror movie).
    • Some experimental music requires the full and undivided attention of the listener. Other pieces are very repetitive and act as ambient backgrounds. If a piece doesn't make sense to you, try changing how closely you're listening.

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Categories: Music Listening and Appreciation