Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tips for Music Haters

"I HATE classical music."

A friend posted the statement on Facebook a while back, and I scrunched up my nose so hard it became part of my forehead. HATE classical music?  If classical grinds your gears, perhaps baroque or romantic tunes would tickle your fancy.  Do you hate classical music or orchestral music?

The proclamation drifted back into my transom while I was taking in a performance by the Florentine Opera Company at Alterra. Iced coffee? Check. Moon? Check. Cool breeze touching the leaves on the trees? Check. Charming company? Check. Selections from Carmen? Check.

Not wearing pants? Double Check.

In the warm fuzzies of my sensory euphoria I wondered, How could someone hate this sublime moment?

Growing up, the house had a soundtrack. We picked out music for everything: doing chores, dancing around half dressed, making dinner, sorting socks...

I have a vivid memory of my mother holding my little brother up like Superman and "flying" around the house to Ride of The Valkyries. (With a dust rag. Clever woman.)

There was squealing. And it was great.

We were extraordinarily lucky to have our first symphony experiences while we were in the single digits. I recall sitting in my velveteen seat in Uihlein Hall and being in such awe of the sonic tidal wave that is  The Great Gate of Kiev that all I could do was cry.

I have awesome parents.

Bonus fact: As a kid, I had a major crush on the principal violinist, Frank Almond. Total Music Babe.

While thinking on "hating classical music", of course it occurs to me that not everyone has a 26 year long flip book of incredible memories to tie to the experience of orchestral music.  

 I firmly believe it's perfectly okay for you to not like something you come into contact with.
This is America.

However,saying you hate classical music without ever really trying it is like saying you hate pizza without ever taking a bite.

And we know pizza haters are communists.

Milwaukee has some amazing opportunities for you to experience the arts. The Florentine Opera has been kicking out the jams for 80 years. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra blows the minds of 200,000 patrons every season. The Milwaukee Ballet is one of the best companies in the country--not to mention Michael Pink is a total bad ass.

The good news is you can use earth dollars to see ALL of it.

Before you spit it out and decide it's not for you, here are a few quick tips for the haters to make your orchestral music experience bearable...perhaps even pleasurable:

Spark Notes.
Listen to the selections before you go. Read up on the composers. You wouldn't see a movie without reading a synopsis, would you?

Protip: most of the guys who wrote this stuff were bat-shit crazy. There is some good reading out there.

It doesn't have to be expensive.
If you're worried about making an investment in something you won't like, try out some free shows.
Don't forget to embrace the power of the student discount!

 It's okay if you don't understand.
Not everyone in the audience is an expert in romantic languages or a music historian. It's cool if you don't understand everything that's happening. If you're worried about heavy or overly conceptual arty farty content, don't be.

It's the same stuff that's on the  radio: sex, infidelity, sex, partying, sex, death and sex. 

Humans are notorious for making art in an effort to get laid--this work is no exception.  You'll be fine.  

Make a movie.
I like to make mental music videos while I listen. Think about paintings or places that the music reminds you of. It could be fields of color or even weather you associate with the score. I always imagine a gentle snow falling on the audience when I hear this piece.

If you want to imagine a swarm of spider monkeys on a trampoline or two monks in a shoot-out, you can. 

There's no wrong way to enjoy it. And my final tip:

Don't be a wuss.
Try it. You might like it.

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