My history with music is an interesting one. I grew up in the 90s, when pop was going through its awkward tween stage and rock was starting to go a little senile. Everyone in my family listened to a different kind of music, and my friends’ music was different too. I was hit with a barrage of everything; from boy bands to country/western, from 80s rap to rock and roll. Among the only genres I didn’t get, coming from a very non-musical background, were classical and jazz, two kinds of music that are usually considered by today’s general population to be boring and for old people who can’t handle “real music.” Or something like that.
At any rate, throughout my whole childhood, I never picked any particular variety of music about which to say, “that’s the kind of music I listen to.” Later on, I became aware that this was fairly out of the ordinary, as most everyone else I’ve ever known has been able to have that “so what kind of music do you like?” conversation. However, by the time I was partly into my high school years, I had built an inner circle of friends, and I gradually adopted parts of my friends’ tastes in music. That is a longer story for another time, though.
I started taking piano lessons when I was six years old, and I liked it. I truly enjoyed making music, and that is where my passion was born. However, I didn’t care much for the theory or how music actually worked; I just wanted to play catchy tunes. My teacher had me play plenty of Mozart and Bach and so on, and I did have fun playing the music, but I can tell, looking back, that I didn’t actually, truly listen to it.
Back in the more recent time of high school, my ears began to open up when I started getting into classic rock. That was really the first time I started listening beyond catchy tunes and sweet drum licks – and what I heard was amazing. Chord progressions, intricate accompaniment, modulations, melodic embellishments, and so on (though I didn’t know those terms at the time, of course) . . . it was all there, and had always been there, and I had never known.
My newly discovered sense of musicality remained at a basic level – not that it seemed basic to me then – until I got to college, at which point I was somewhat in over my head for a little while. I was surrounded by people who were my age and taking the same classes as me, but already had a far more advanced understanding of music going in. At first I was a little scared and rather uncomfortable, but with time I realized that being around these other musicians was facilitating my musical growth and enhancing my education. Additionally, the music department staff at BGSU is wonderful, and the teachers have been extremely helpful to me.
My point in all this is that music can be so much more than it often is to most people. Music can serve many purposes, and it’s certainly not necessary to understand the intricacies in order to appreciate what you hear; but when you really listen to music, it unlocks a whole new, deeper level of satisfaction. I am a huge advocate for music appreciation, and this is the first and most important step in learning to appreciate music you might not have otherwise.
Now I have a secret desire to sit down with some family and friends and teach them a basic analysis of a movement from Beethoven’s ninth.