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

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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 November 22, 2021

Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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Simplify

I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

Absolutely.

And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

  • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
  • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
  • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

Be Mindful

You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

Reflect

As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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