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5 reasons why classical music should be part of your music diet

5 reasons why classical music should be part of your music diet

If you thought that classical music was something you got around to only when you reached 60, then you may be missing out on some of the most stimulating and uplifting experiences known to man. But you shake your head with certainty and remind yourself that symphonies equate to sleep medication and concert halls are solely for the lost!

But give it a fair go, and you may be pleasantly surprised. After all, you would do your research on a prospective school for your child, the suburb you plan to move into or the company that you are hoping to find a job in. And you swear by the fact that such research helps you make more informed decisions. So, indulge me for a moment and let us apply that same approach to what could be a potential life changer: classical music.

Let us put aside the obvious benefits that classical music brings to the table – stimulating the brain, improving memory power, exercising the imagination and reducing stress.

Let us instead focus on specific life lessons that classical music can teach us:

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1. Tradition

Classical music celebrates tradition. Brahms owed much of his approach to composition to his idol, Beethoven. Beethoven, in his time, expanded and transformed the musical language that his predecessors, Mozart and Haydn had developed. They in turn, were inspired by the work of Bach and Handel. So this is music that is not ashamed of its roots. This is music that is unapologetic about its heritage. Even contemporary classical music pays homage to the past. In fact, the modern day orchestra still uses for the most part, instruments that had their origins in the 16th century!

Unfortunately, the obsession with the latest fads can often make people cynical about the past. Being “on trend” today becomes such an obsession that we often miss out on the rewards of yesterday’s experiences. Unfortunately, the young are very often suspicious and wary of every institution from the past. Classical music, on the other hand, reminds us that we are all part of a great continuum and we are what we are because of what came before us.

2. Patience and focus

Just as the mystic repeats the sacred chant to reach greater communion with his God, repeated listening to unfamiliar classical music pieces will get us closer to the nirvana they can deliver. But this calls for patience and focus. Classical music is not the trailer; it’s the full feature-length film. It is not the highlights of the Twenty-20 cricket match, but the full five-day test. It is not the comic strip; its the unabridged novel.

We give wine the time it needs to age into that exquisite drink we relish so much; so why not stretch our attentiveness when listening to classical music so we give ourselves the best possible chance to be touched by something truly sublime? Why not develop such an open-minded approach to everything; so we can contend with some of the more unfamiliar and challenging experiences we must all face in life itself!

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3. Symphonic thinking

Classical music helps us achieve what I term ‘symphonic thinking’. While the typical pop song is around 3-4 minutes long, the typical symphony is around 25-40 minutes. And it is not only about the duration. The composers and performers of classical music are dealers in subtleties. There is in this music an emotional and intellectual complexity that is demanding, but also deeply rewarding.

Very rarely is the expression in a symphony in simple ‘black and white’. Very rarely is the experience of a symphony one-dimensional. Symphonies, by their sheer depth and breadth, encourage us to widen our view, expand our consciousness and develop an ‘abundance mentality’. By encouraging ‘big picture’ thinking, they help us extend ourselves to encompass more of life, as it were.

At a time when the media seeks to dumb down every concept and cater to the briefest of attention spans, symphonies challenge us to reach for a richer scope that we are all capable of, if we would only stretch ourselves to discern and enjoy a wider range of emotion and thinking.

4. True collaboration

Listen to any orchestra, choir or chamber music ensemble and one of the most arresting impressions is that of true teamwork. To achieve a unified expression, while playing different instruments (or singing in different voices), with different melodies and at different rhythms, is not a easy task. And beyond the mere notes, there are also potential differences in style and interpretation that each member of the group could have.

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To subsume all of those differences (across extremely passionate and strong-minded musicians) and achieve a unique oneness of utterance is a staggering undertaking! Can this everyday miracle in classical music concert halls teach us to learn true collaboration at work, at home and at play?

5. Discipline and application

To compose or perform classical music requires a level of technical skill that typically demands years of learning and practice. To achieve that, musicians – even the amateurs – must exercise discipline in practice, which is the only way to master their craft. There are no short cuts and any compromise will show up the musician very quickly.

Can we learn to apply ourselves with greater dedication to all those pursuits we believe are worth our devotion?

In the final analysis, classical music is not some fossilized relic or elitist pastime. It has been nurtured by passionate and creative individuals and groups who have often dedicated their lives to creating enduring sound worlds. It can bring us new insights and new thinking if we would only approach it with open-mindedness and enthusiasm. It can stimulate a richer engagement with life. It can help us transcend our limitations. It can help us find true fulfillment.

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Featured photo credit: Piano Keys, Ivan Fernandez

Featured photo credit: Ivan Fernandez via changelessfriend.blogspot.com.au

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5 reasons why classical music should be part of your music diet

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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