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How to Listen to Classical Music

September 1, 2022

How to Listen to Classical Music

If you are new to or somewhat unfamiliar with classical music, you may find listening to it boring, confusing, or a bit intimidating. You may even wonder how someone can enjoy a lengthy – and often complex – piece of music given our current world of fast communication and technology. But like all good and rewarding things, it takes intentional and thoughtful practice to discover how classical music can be significant and meaningful to you.  

What Defines Classical Music?

Classical music – originally rooted in Western art – is characterized by its formal structures, instrumentation, and the complexity of musical and harmonic ideas . While the “Classical” period itself occurred approximately between 1750-1820 with now-famous European composers likeHaydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, the term “classical music” has stretched into the modern day to reference a much larger body of music. Even though the works of these Classical-period composers may have celebrated the start of classical music as we know it, they certainly did not mark the end of it. You can still find classical music today in scores for movies, orchestra compositions, and even for select bands and recording artists.  

Why Should You Listen to Classical Music?

Scientists have found that there are health benefits gained by listening to and enjoying classical music. Those who enjoy listening could reap some or all of the following benefits:

  • Gives you brain power. A research team in Great Britain found that students who listened to classical music could answer more quickly and accurately when listening to classical music.  
  • Help for those with dementia. Some people claim that those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia may be reached with music when nothing else seems to work.  
  • Stress levels are reduced. Music can trigger endorphins in the brain, decreasing stress levels and fighting depression. That’s why drivers who listen to classical music are less prone to aggressive driving and road rage.
  • Better sleep. Listening to classical music before bed relaxes your mind and body, and you can sleep more soundly.  
  • Helps reduce pain. Many people find pain less noticeable by tuning out the pain with classical music. This realization was evident in studies that monitored chronic and post-operative pain.  
  • Helps listeners express emotions. Listeners have been found to be more communicative and able to express their emotions more easily. 
  • Other health benefits such as lower blood pressure or losing weight. Since listening to classical music may help you relax and sleep better, it may help lower your blood pressure. Listening to classical music during dinner may help you eat slower, become full sooner, and eat less.  

How to Listen to Classical Music Like a Pro

Cultivating a passion for classical music is easy for some and may take more persistence for others. Some listeners may grow to appreciate the classics from one composer more quickly than another. Even if you cannot listen live, choose world-class recordings that allow you to appreciate the beauty and emotion of the composition.  

  • Listen for Melody and Rhythm: Unlike pop or rock genres, classical music is best appreciated for the melody and rhythm of each selection. Even those that contain vocalists can best be appreciated, at least in the beginning, by concentrating on the beautiful melody and unique rhythm of each piece. Allow yourself to listen actively, letting yourself feel the rise and fall of emotions that the composer is creating.  
  • Name That Emotion: Classical music rarely hints at what emotion you should feel when you listen. Does it make you feel joyous? Are you feeling anger or despair? Let yourself feel the emotion(s) clearly and fully, and then listen to the piece again and see if you feel the same way. It is not unusual for this to change or for multiple emotions to be felt in the same composition.
  • Visualize: Unless you are driving, of course, lay back and close your eyes. Let your mind paint the picture, combining your emotions, melody, and rhythm to give your personal visualization. There is no right or wrong way to visualize what you feel. Just relax and let your mind create.
  • Trust Your Taste: Don’t be discouraged if a particular composer or piece of classical music is not your cup of tea. Not everyone likes the same genre and artist in modern music either. But don’t be afraid to try something new or revisit those pieces another time later.
  • Repetition, Repetition, Repetition: Just like learning the words of a popular song, you listen over and over. Classical music is no different. Repetition creates familiarity and comfort and allows you to listen again to parts of the music you may not have heard fully or understood. Before long, the song you cannot get out of your head will be classical.
  • Attend a Classical Music Concert: Attending a live classical music concert is the best way to listen. Even if you have been listening to a world-class recording, nothing compares to a live performance at a concert hall. The Colorado Symphony performs throughout the state in addition to at least 150 live performances at the renowned Boettcher Concert Hall each year. The acoustics of this beautiful venue is unsurpassed, and even the novice classical music patron will find it breathtaking.  Tickets at the Colorado Symphony start at just $15, and we offer flexible subscription options – so you can come practice listening to classical music as often as you’d like!

Experience a Live Symphony Orchestra Like Never Before

The Colorado Symphony offers many classical selections and a variety of family-friendly performances. Come and experience the pleasure of listening to a live symphony orchestra. Check out our event page for upcoming features or to purchase tickets or subscriptions. Don’t miss an opportunity to experience the Colorado Symphony!