Classical Music

Recently a student of mine wrote a paper on the power of what he called “good music”.  I agreed with most of his paper, except for the fact that he couldn’t tell me what type of music it was that gave one such amazing power and uplift.

When I told the student that classical music was what all of the research was focused on, he was confused.  To tell the truth, I’m not sure that he had ever heard of classical music before, sadly.

So today, I want to discuss music that will literally help “soothe the savage beast”!

When my daughter was an infant, she HATED to drive in the car.  We remedied that by playing classical music CDs.  It worked like a charm to clam her down.  I often play classical music to the girls at night to help put them to sleep.

I’ve also noticed that my daughters are better at doing things (cleaning, helping in the kitchen, doing arts and crafts, etc.) if I have some classical music playing in the background.

Research shows that classical music can do the following:

  • Improves memory
  • Helps to control pain
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Boosts IQ
  • Enhances Creativity
  • Increases motivation
  • Helps relax, focus, uplift, and energize the soul

I was raised by a classical musician.  One of my favorite stories about my piano teacher/opera singer mother is the day that she was driving us home from high school and the driver of the car next to us was blasting his music.  My mom rolled down her windows and cranked up her stereo which was set to Classical 89.  Ahhh, she sure showed him! 😉

I am going to start a page and list some favorite classical pieces and composers as well as some movie soundtracks that are heavenly.

Please feel free to add your recommendations of any music without lyrics. (We’ll talk about music with lyrics another time.)

Also, lets start a discussion, what are some of  the benefits of music without lyrics?

16 thoughts on “Classical Music”

  1. You’re so so, good. I just play ABBA and Billy Joel to my baby.

    But I like in no particular order:

    Aaron Copeland: Tenderland Suite, Fanfare for the Common Man, Variations on Simple Gifts

    Chopin: pretty much anything here.

    DeBussy: I bought this cassette in Sofia with a mish-mash of his works. Can’t tell you what they were, but I love DeBussy. Claire De Lune esp.

    Billy Joel: Fantasies and Delusions, this is his classical piano opus. So totally great!

    Beethovan: 6th and 9th Symphonies esp. An Der Freude…who does not LOVE that?

    Also, I love me a Bach organ anything. Sheep May Safely Graze is probably my most favorite of his works though, it’s so pastoral.

    Percy Grainger: he wrote piano works in the late 19th early 20th Century. If you’ve ever seen Howard’s End they used some of his music, in the opening.

    Oh, and I don’t know if you’d consider him “classical” but I love LOVE Vince Guirauldi. Of course he did all the music for the Charlie Brown cartoons, but he has other works that are so good and just happy.

    Ok when you get to songs with words, we’re gonna talk about Andy Williams and Sergio Mendes, ok? We just are.

  2. Good post!

    I was allowed to pretty much listen to whatever I wanted to music-wise growing up, but one thing I did not have a lot of control over was the music I learned to play as a piano student. I learned classical and ALOT of it 🙂

    One technique my teacher used to help me express myself better while playing was to come up with a “story” that went along with the piece. I remember learning a piece by Tchaikovsky called “The New Doll” and I still remember the story that I came up with to help me play it with emotion. It is something I still do today when learning new pieces and I encourage my students to do the same. Point being, when a song has lyrics you are limited in your imagination…the story is given to you, but when the lyrics are non-existent, a whole new world of what the composer was trying to portray is opened up to you.

  3. One thing I have always loved about classical music is it’s ability to center me. I have always been a fan of many types of music and have never been limited to one or two genre. I have noticed, however, that if I am feeling stress or confusion it helps to take a quiet moment with just my thoughts… set to melody. I also love the big orchestra pieces like the 1812 Overture, if for nothing else than a little exercise as I “lead” the orchestra. I wish more kids today could learn the powerful emotions and depth of feeling that were captured by the Masters and Maestros of times gone by. There is a reason it is called Classic music… it is timeless. Many artists come and go, but Bach, Chopin, Beethoven, and many more are here to stay. Thank goodness for that!

  4. Heidi,

    I totally agree. When I was a little girl and we’d go on long road trips, I’d just sit and think and watch the scenery go by. I still have certain pieces that remind me of certain cities. I think it is good for children to learn to sit and think!

  5. MaryBeth,
    I LOVE your idea!!! (I want to know what your story was for “The new doll”).
    I think that it is so relaxing to go to a symphony, close your eyes, just listen and think.

  6. As usual – Joyce you are fabulous! You play “Mama Mia” to your child – don’t you. 😉
    Great suggestions. Will you be a guest commentator when I discuss Uncle Nat and Showtune Saturday nights?

  7. Laryssa, have you ever heard the song? There’s one called “The New Doll” then “The Sick Doll” and finally “The Doll’s Funeral”. Listen to the song and picture a little girl, Little House on the Prairie like, who received a doll so precious and she picks it up and twirls it and dances with it, then puts it down because she’s scared it will ruined. She can’t stand to have it put down so she picks it up again…and again…finally putting it down one last time to “sleep”.

    Man, I played those pieces when I was eight years old and here I am 35 and I still love his music 🙂

  8. I haven’t MaryBeth, but I’m going to find it – I love Tchaikovsky. The story is great, what a fun way to put emotion into the pieces that you perform.

    I still remember little scenarios and stories I made up when I was a kid for all sorts of things (math, foreign language words, etc.) It’s crazy how those things stay with you.

  9. I love string orchestras. Corelli, Vivaldi and other Baroque artists in particular, are my favorite. Mmm…I also love Paganini!!

    When we were learning pieces, we always had one or two different recordings of the particular piece. Since there was usually more than just one Concerto on a recording, we got to hear a lot of pieces, and that helped me set my own goals. By the way, I didn’t know there were radio stations that played anything besides classical music (except for news and npr) until I was in Jr. High. All we ever listened to on the radio was classical music.

    My favorite benefit of music without words, is that you can sing along and not surprise yourself by what just came out of your mouth – if you know what I mean. Something else I like, is that if you’re pondering, your mind can go where it wants to go, and delve deeper into subjects that you’re thinking about, rather than being guided by lyrics (be they uplifting or not).

  10. You know, learning to play an instrument or sing develops the small motor muscles of the body, the bulk of which are located in the fingers, mouth, and throat. The development of these muscles has been linked the the brain’s ability to understand high level math and science. Which naturally explains why I am so brilliant! 🙂

  11. Appreciate this post – nice work. Are you familiar with the improvement in SAT scores when students listened to Mozart while taking the test? Interestingly enough, their scores did not improve when they were listening to the contemporary classical composer Steve Reich.

    Keep up the great posts,

    American Composer Ralph Kendrick

  12. Thanks, Ralph!

    By the way, I went on your site and really enjoyed Choral Music: Psalm 66. (I’m a sucker for Choral pieces!) I appreciate it and am inspired.

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