This week we’re discussing music. Since I’m a musician, you would think this is an easy topic for me to write about. And if I were to discuss music education or performance, I would have this post written in no time. But the question presented to us asks about activities during which I like to listen to music. That puts a whole different spin on things.
I spend a LOT of time on my computer. I type my stories and books, I communicate with readers and family on social media and email, and I grade papers for the college courses I teach through the school website. My husband usually has the television on, and sometimes I need to leave the room to get my work done. But then hubby feels guilty and offers to turn off his TV so I won’t leave him all alone in the family room. Sometimes I’ll compromise and put on my headphones and listen to music that drowns out his sitcoms and sporting events. I’ve found that having music playing helps me focus, even when the television is off. So much of what I listen to is actually white noise, designed to mask the things that distract me from what I should be doing.
When I’m writing I usually listen to an instrumental playlist that helps me pull myself out of my world and into whatever world my characters inhabit. Impressionist music (by composers like Debussy, Faure, and Ravel) seems to help with that, and I found several YouTube clips specifically designed to help with creativity. Fellow author Stephanie Michels shared with me a CD she uses called Enhancing Creativity by Stephen Halpern. I purchased it and used it one summer when I really needed to crank out a lot of words. There are supposed to be subliminal messages embedded in the music. I’m not sure I would endorse that, but the music was pleasant enough to keep on a continuing loop and unobtrusive enough that I wasn’t distracted by it.
When I’m grading papers I need something that helps me focus. Research seems to suggest music from the classical period (Mozart, Haydn, and their contemporaries), so I’ll go to iTunes radio and select a station that fits the bill. I also found several YouTube clips with several hours worth of music for studying and concentration.
When I’m in my car I’ll listen to what’s called soft rock. There are a few local stations that have a nice mix of 70s music that I grew up on combined with some of the less objectionable music from today. It plays just enough contemporary music so that I have a little bit of an idea about the artists my kids and grandkids listen to.
When I’m trying to relax, I need silence. I suppose it sounds odd that a musician can’t relax to music, but when I LISTEN to music it tends to stimulate me. The music I play when I’m writing or working online helps me get things done, so when I want to calm down I need to hear nothing except nature (and maybe the furnace or air conditioner, along with traffic and other assorted sounds).
When I’m making music the selection depends entirely on the conductor. I spend three evenings a week in rehearsal. On Monday evenings I’m playing band music, and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays I’m playing orchestra music. The literature for each group is varied enough that I get something from each. And the skill level required means that I should wrap up this post and practice for the performances we’ll have in the next month!
What do you like to listen to as you go through your day?