Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Tea

Let's talk...classical music...wait, don't go to the next blog...stay with me!

Actually, I was originally thinking of something else to chat about when...a few days ago...I found myself driving down the longer (and faster) of the two roads that lead to my home in the country.

For you see, I had been standing in the sun for nearly two hours and...the air conditioner in my car has not worked for a few years now. Windows rolled down, going 50 mph on a country road...instant air conditioner! But I digress...


I was hot and tired so the three Christians channels on my radio didn't appeal to me. There is a time and place for good preaching but this wasn't one of them. I punched the middle button, knowing I'd probably find food for my soul there...the University's NPR channel. Their FM channel is mostly classical, most of the day.

Instantly the sound of a violin began to relieve the tense muscles. I was quite surprised later to find it was a Russian orchestra playing Tchaikovsky...a much softer number than I've heard from his pen. I was close to home when a classical guitar began to play, the favorite instrument for my husband and son to hear on this channel.


The music started me thinking of my introduction to classical music, in early elementary school. It was all about listening to a record and taking a test. Yuk...it made me afraid of classical records for years! I honestly thought to enjoy the music, I had to know everything about the technical aspects so I basically avoided it until my late teens when I began to develop a little more appreciation. It wasn't until my daughter began to play the violin that I truly came to enjoy it (although not in the first few weeks of her classes...ouch!).

I have since learned to appreciate classical music just the same as any genre, by listening to recordings and realizing there are some I love and others I...don't. I began to purchase tapes and later CDs of Handel, Bach, Vivaldi, Beethoven, etc., and recordings that included a variety of composers. After awhile, I came to recognize favorites by each composer; Handel's Water Music, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Bach's Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, Beethoven's Hymn to Joy (aka: Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee)...just to name a few.

I truly love all kinds of music including the country and western of my childhood, the California sound and then the British Invasion of my teenage years, the romantic ballads of the 40s and 50s my older siblings enjoyed, the 50s Bebop sound my sister's loved, show tunes, movie scores, the Contemporary Christian music which was just beginning during my Jesus People days, the old Hymns, some kinds of jazz and "Blues"...all kinds of wonderful music.

However, around Christmas...when I hear the beginning sounds of Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring...I always think that this must be the music of the angels. If it is possible at the time, I stop what I am doing, shut my eyes...and let my soul absorb the beauty.

My daughter's wedding and reception is somewhat a blur as I was not feeling well that year. (That's the year I homeschooled from the sofa.) It was before I began taking the insulin, which literally brought life back to me. However, I always think back to the musicians she had playing at her wedding and reception and the extra layer of magic they brought to the special occasion.

I have never officially taught my son anything about classical music beyond CDs like Beethoven Lives Upstairs. However, I smile when I get in the car in the early morning...after he has driven it the night before...and find he was listening to the University's channel on the way home to relax and unwind after a busy day.

There are readers who were raised on the genre and perhaps have music degrees. I'm certain there are others who are like I was when I didn't know Bach from Beethoven. As with learning anything in this world, ask questions...read...purchase a CD (many are very inexpensive) or check them out at the local library.

I was introduced to Yo-Yo Ma by watching Mr. Rogers with my kids so it was an easy choice to purchase one of his CDs. He continues to be a favorite in this household. I learned about The Four Seasons many years ago by watching the credits at the end of a news-type talk show to find out what that beautiful music was they played at the beginning and end of each show. I found many unexpected favorites by listening to Classical Christmas CDs.

I like the way many homeschoolers introduce classical music to their family...one musician at a time. Perhaps Tchaikovsky or Handel around Christmas, Strauss makes me think of Spring weddings, Bach the month of Easter, etc. The music is played in the home as one goes about their day to day work and play.

My knowledge of classical music is so limited, I was actually hesitant to write about it. However, it has brought such...joy...peace...relaxation...and absolute delight...that I so wanted to encourage those who have not made it part of their lives to do so.

I also encourage (please) those who are more knowledgeable to share favorites which would be written on a slip of paper, tucked in my purse and taken with me to the library or music store. For after all these years, I am but a novice...

Now I will brew a new tea I recently found...Constant Comment Green...turn on the CD player...locate my latest novel...and really, really relax.

9 comments:

Betty @ She's Sew Pretty said...

Happy Mother's Day to you! I love classical music! I love opera too. but, I also listen to country and alternative. On any given day I can listen to Josh Groban, The Gypsy Kings to Chopin. Great blog post today!

UP said...

I remember my parents had a stack of records. So as a child I was exposed to classical music.

It was as a computer programmer, working in a cubical in a large office that I returned to listening to classical music. I found that listening to classical music helped me ignor the noise of the office and concentrate on my coding.

So I agree tea, music, and a good book sound like a great way to relax.

picketfencemom said...

Happy, Happy Mother's Day, dear Brenda! May the Lord bless you today and always!
This is a wonderful post about classical music. My computer stays 'tuned' to the Sky FM 'Mostly Classical' station all day, everyday! I didn't grow up listening to classical music that often, but I became a big fan in college. I seemed to always study better when it played quietly in the background. And my children have learned to appreciate classical and identify composers mostly by default since I have it playing all the time. But I'm seeing that they too have come to enjoy the soft, lovely music as the years pass, and they make comments about it often now. We usually tune our van radio to GPR.
My definite favorites are Vivaldi and Tchaikovsky, but I also enjoy Debussy and Beethoven in addition to others. Very relaxing!
Take care and have a blessed week!
Amy

Leslie said...

Happy Mother's Day, & thanks for the post. I chuckled when you mentioned that you listened to NPR. I love that station! Most evangelicals raise their eye brows when I share I listen..too Left perhaps? I too came to love classical in college & would play Vivaldi's Four Seasons to study by.
Recomendations: Bolero by Maurice Ravel (good to do housework to because it's tempo slowly increases), Franz Schubert's Ave Maria in D (serenity itself), Debussy's Clair de Lune (leaves me dreaming I'm atop the Cliffs of Dover with moonlight overhead) & last artist Rachmaninoff...Romance with a capital R.
Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

My favorite classical piece is Pachelbel's Canon in D. It literally makes my heart ache from the beauty of it. I have a cd I found at Target that has several versions played with different instruments. I never tire of that heavenly piece of music. :)
I didn't grow up with classical music, but it grew on me when I had a friend in my early 20's who was a ballerina and she introduced me to it. Specifically I remember Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring."
I learned to love it so much that I had a 4 string quartet play at my wedding reception. :)
Nowadays I listen to it only in the winter. It seems to go with gray, rainy days more than with sunny, warm ones. Those are the times for jazz, specifically Kenny G. He's instrumental but for vocal jazz (think "Father of the Bride") I go to Steve Tyrell. For more instrumental jazz I go to Beegie Adair-LOVE her trio cds.
Oops...I digressed too.
I listened to a wonderful tape last year by Andrew Pudewa (sp?) about classical music and brain development. After the age of 12 it has no effect on the brain but before the age of 12, classical music, especially Mozart, really has a profound effect on the brain. There was a study done with mice, in a maze, with classical music playing and then with rock music playing. Hmm...probably would take too long to tell the rest. You can guess how the mice reacted to both.
Okay, okay, I'm done. :)
Love classical music. Love it.
Great post Brenda.
Joanna in Cali.

Sandra said...

I enjoy classical music, too. I'm taking a music history class and having been studying classical music for the last three years.

I've been thinking of posting about classcial composers from a Christina perspective on my blog. Thanks for letting me realize others enjoy this beautiful music.

smilnsigh said...

I love most all classical music, but can't tell you much. I just don't know the names of pieces. Just know that I always put it on, if I have a radio playing.

Yes, I at times like to listen to something different. But as classical is my default choice.

I too can learn from your commenters.

Mari-Nanci

picketfencemom said...

I also meant to add...Pachebel to my absolute favorites. Canon in D is so beautiful, and I love all different instrumental versions of it...but especially violin!
And GPR is Georgia Public Radio-- which I guess is really just a subdivision of NPR.
Have a great day!
Amy

Mary Kathryn said...

I keep a list at my blog of all my favorites and add to it weekly I think. My favorite at the moment - Ottorino Respighi: Three Botticelli Pictures.

:0)