Today we’re going to get into a listening to music challenge!

Every year around this time, I like putting up a video relating to goals. There’s something about the beginning of September – and thus the beginning of the school year here in Canada – that feels new and fresh. Summer starts coming to a halt and my teaching year begins.

Last year, we did a really in-depth look at setting goals (part 1 and part 2). We even did a video about why you should even bother setting goals at all, and if music education really matters (it was a pretty deep video).

So this year I wanted to do something different. My own personal goals are also different this year – I’m considering doing exams again after a long hiatus. There was a period of time where I did 8 exams in 2 years, which was really intense. Now that I’ve had a long break from that, I’m starting to get antsy and eager to continue my education.

My personal goals this year

That’ll probably mean studying for my Intermediate Pedagogy credentials (for piano teaching), which is an intense 2-part test and will likely take a year of preparation. I might do a video related to that goal in the future if you’re interested.

Aside from getting my Intermediate Pedagogy credentials, there’s another, much simpler, personal goal that I’d like to achieve, and that’s the subject of today’s video.

Listening to music!

What does “actually” listening to music mean?

My knowledge of Classical music is pretty lopsided. I know Beethoven way better than Mozart, and I know the music of certain Romantic composers (Liszt and Chopin) better than anyone in any other era.

I want to listen – actually listen – to 30 new works this month. What I mean by actually listen is:

  • Not listen to said work while driving, cleaning, or doing any other activity where I’m dividing my attention
  • Basically just sit and listen to said work while doing nothing else – just me and the music.

Benefit of actual listening

Some of my fondest musical memories are of sitting alone and listening to an album, or a certain song over and over. Not doing anything else, just listening. The music has so much more impact that way – it tends to actually mean something, to actually effect you on some level, instead of just passing over you like when you’re multitasking.

I want to have that experience with 30 Classical pieces of music this month. I want to really get to know 30 pieces I otherwise wouldn’t know, and expand my musical knowledge by doing so. I want to commit myself to appreciating music for a little bit of time each day.

Listening to music challenge: Choosing pieces

So then the next question is, what pieces?

I think for this challenge, I want to take a broad approach. Instead of getting specific into one composer or one era, I want to listen to music from the four main eras (basically between the year 1600-2000).

I’m going to stay away from pieces that I know really well – for example, I won’t be listening to Liszt’s Liebestraum #3 or Debussy’s Clair de Lune, even though they’re both famous and important pieces.

At the same time, I don’t want to get too obscure. I want this list to be useful for you, too. So some of the pieces on my final listening list are ones that I at least have passing familiarity with. Others on this list are basically new to me.

I’ll share my final 30-day list with you if you’d like to check it out and play along. I’ll also be posting this music to Twitter and Facebook on a daily basis if you want to keep up over there. It would be awesome if you wanted to do this 30-day listening challenge with me, and share the things you’re listening to!

Sometime last year, we did a 30-day practice challenge over on social media, and there were a few of you sharing your practice every day. It was really fun to connect with you like that and share experiences. I’d love if we can get the same thing going this time – only with listening to music!

Let’s light up the internet with great Classical music this month. ?

Without further ado, here’s my list:

My Classical Playlist:

Baroque (7)

Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050 (approx. 20m)

Violin Sonata no. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001 (approx. 14m)

Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351 (approx. 20m)

Scarlatti: Sonata in B minor, K87, L33 (approx. 4m)

Telemann: Viola Concerto in G major, TWV 51:G9 (approx. 15m)

Vivaldi: Mandolin Concerto in C major, RV 425 (approx. 9m)

Purcell: Ode to St. Cecilia, Z.328 (approx. 8m)

Classical (7)

Beethoven: Symphony no. 3 “Eroica” (approx. 1h)

Piano Sonata no. 23 “Appassionata” (approx. 25m)

Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A major, K622 (approx. 30m)

Piano Concerto no. 21 in C major, K467 (approx. 30m)

Haydn: Symphony no. 104 “London” (approx. 28m)

String Quartet op. 76 no. 2 “Fifths” (approx. 20m)

Clementi: Sonata in B flat major, op. 24 no. 2 (approx. 13m)

Romantic (8)

Chopin: Polonaise in A flat Major, op. 53 (approx. 7m)

Liszt: La Campanella, S141 (approx. 5m)

Schumann: Piano Sonata no. 2 in G minor (approx. 18m)

Schubert: Impromptu op. 90 no. 4 (approx. 8m)

Brahms: Hungarian Dance no. 5 (approx. 4m)

Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto no. 1 in G minor (approx. 18m)

Grieg: Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, op. 65 no. 6 (approx. 7m)

Schumann (Clara): Nocturne in F major, op. 6 no. 2 (approx. 5m)

Modern (8)

Debussy: Reverie (approx. 5m)

Rachmaninoff: Prelude in C sharp minor, op. 3 no. 2 (approx. 5m)

Stravinsky: Violin Concerto in D (approx. 20m)

Shostakovich: String Quartet no. 8 in C minor, op. 110 (approx. 20m)

Bartok: Romanian Folk Dances (approx. 7m)

Kabalevsky: Piano Concerto no. 3 (approx. 20m)

Tchaikovsky: Symphony no. 4 in F minor, op. 36 (approx. 45m)

Prokofiev: Symphony no. 1 “Classical”, op. 25 (approx. 15m)

Final words

I tried to find a balance of shorter pieces with longer works, but the reality is that a lot of great and legendary Classical music is basically equivalent to a modern-day album in length. Symphonies, concertos and sonatas tend to be very involved with multiple movements, and hence tend to be over 20 minutes long.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to be listening to these pieces in order, or if I’ll listen to them at complete random depending on what I’m in the mood for, and what I have time for. Let me know if you have an opinion on the matter.

Another thing I’ll likely do with these pieces is spend a few minutes reading about their backstory, just to get some context. If I’m going to be spending 40 minutes with a symphony, I’d like to know where it came from and what to expect with it.

My social media pages will be linked on this video, and also in the description below. I’ll make a Spotify playlist and share it on the accompanying blog post as well, if you happen to be a Spotify user.

Let’s have fun with this!