Monthly Listening Activity

Last Updated on 2023-03-12 | Originally Posted on 2022-12-20


I’ve created my first Monthly Listening Activity to encourage my piano students and their families to become more active listeners of classical music. I’m a fan of other forms of music, but there’s nothing like listening to a Bach choral work, a Beethoven symphony, or a Brahms piano quartet. Those are just three examples from a wealth of different style periods and instrumentation.

There’s enough variety that anyone can find something to like. Thanks to the Web, there are so many wonderful performances available for free. Why not start there? It’s my goal to instill a lifelong love of this music, which includes listening to timeless music in addition to playing it.

Project On Hold

It turns out that I was too wildly optimistic, since only one student did the first month’s activity. I need to rework the magic sauce before a relaunch!

    My Listening Journey

    I didn’t listen to classical music until I was 12 years old. On a whim, I asked my parents to buy me this inexpensive set of classical records that was always marketed during commercials. I don’t remember what was on each of the 12 records of those long-playing records. It would have been enough if it was just one record with Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto and Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances.

    Broadway Shows Included

    My mom loved Broadway musicals, so we saw the original production of Annie in 1979. The star of the show was the third and final Annie, Sarah Jessica Parker. We went to a bunch of other shows in subsequent years, like Evita, Forty-Second Street, and Sweeney Todd. School trips often included shows; my final high school trip was when our band director took us to The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

    Solo Classical Concerts

    My mom was not a fan of symphony concerts or piano recitals; she preferred sleeping through these events. Eventually, I stopped buying her a ticket and went solo. During my senior year in high school, I occasionally took the bus to NYC at 5:55 pm and got there in time to see world-class concerts at Carnegie Hall. Mom wasn’t too upset about picking me up at 12:25 am, but I definitely caught some heat when I arrived on the 2:07 am bus!

    Just a Snapshot

    That’s just a snippet of my memories, made possible by my intense interest in this music and very generous parents who ran a top-notch taxi service! I was lucky to grow up in the outer suburbs of NYC, and classical performances were more abundant decades ago. Good classical performances have become more difficult to find as orchestras and other arts organizations fold. That’s even more reason to be vigilant to endorse the music I love, so it will be there for future generations.

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