One of the most common things I hear from people when talking about music is “I don't like classical”, often followed up by the admission that they have never actually spent the time listening to a range of classical music in order to find out whether they like it or not. After all, there's a tremendous range of styles out there and listening to Haydn's Horn Concerto in music lessons at school when you were twelve and being bored doesn't mean you wouldn't enjoy Beethoven's string quartets, Bach's The Well Tempered Clavier or Eugene Ysaye's haunting sonatas for solo violin.
The odd thing is that unless you don't watch television or films at all, you are likely to be absolutely engulfed in classical music almost every day of your lives. Film scores frequently use existing classical pieces and when they have them written specifically for their own use it's often in a classical style. TV programme theme tunes are regularly snippets of classical music. Backing tracks on adverts are ... you get the idea. It's common, it's around us, there's a good chance you find yourself humming along without realising – and then you say “I don't like classical music” while observant eyebrows around you raise themselves slightly.
So this is my challenge, it''s pretty simple. Try some classical and see what you think. If you don't like it – try something by a different composer in a different style. This isn't about telling everyone to listen to classical and nothing else; I personally have a broad range of music I enjoy and find trying new styles to be exciting. I don't like everything I try. Sometime I find it to be ok, but not something I'd bother listening to. Then there are the styles I find I absolutely love, that I would never have discovered had I not made just a little bit of an effort to listen to it.
OK, you've probably either stopped reading by now or there's just a tiny chance you might be willing to give it a go and see if anything interests you. Great. The next question is, how to get started with minimal cost and effort? Spotify has a large body of classical music and if you don't already use it, there's a free version available, so no cost and little effort. Why not search for the suggestions I made in the opening paragraph and then try a few names you're probably already aware of? If you would prefer not to use Spotify, BBC Radio Three or Classic FM are both excellent choices with the presenters doing all the work for you.
You've given it a try, decided you'd like to take it a little further and experience some live classical music – because there's so much value in the performance itself, not just the music, it can be a wonderful experience even if you're not excited by the music! Well, rather handily, Glasgow is very well served for live classical performances. This coming Sunday the 17th in St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral the Royal Scottish National Orchestra are performing some chamber music which includes works by a number of composers including Vivaldi. It's an afternoon concert with tickets costing just £12 – or £5 if you're under 26 or a full time student. That's not exactly going to bankrupt you if you don't enjoy it! Or if £5 is just too much to waste, how about absolutely no cost courtesy of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the City Halls on Friday 22nd June?
There are no shortage of options if you decide you do actually enjoy classical music after all. The RSNO offer of £5 for being under 26 is a standard option. Scottish Opera normally do similar for £10. The University of Glasgow itself hosts a range of concerts, including shorter lunch time options intended to allow people to attend between lectures, as well as headline concerts in the evening from notable international musicians. Many of these are free to attend while the rest are generally very reasonably priced.
If you've put some effort in and still don't enjoy classical music, at least you've tried. Perhaps it's time to try some jazz or modern Scottish folk instead? Just remember, this is not about replacing what you currently listen to with classical – it's about allowing yourself to find out what you enjoy and broadening your interests.
Glasgow Concert Halls classical
University of Glasgow “Music in the University”
RSNO £5 tickets for people under the age of 26