I use “classical” here in the broadest sense possible.
A year ago, I’d probably have been intensely irritated at anyone who asked this and accused them of being a dirty yuppie. But now I dunno. I first started really listening to classical music in high school info sys because it was a light class and I had way too much time on my hands and used it to download midis to listen to while I sat around not working. I was pretty indiscriminate but mostly went for the short stuff because, let’s face it, any midi over maybe 5 minutes long is kind of torturous to listen to. Lately I’ve branched out a fair bit, actually getting CDs and getting into vocal stuff, and worked my way through a couple operas and a symphony or two. After all this I noticed something surprising, which is that I can sit and listen to stuff I’d have written off before as way too freaking long, and without doing anything else. And when I haven’t heard something before I find myself piecing things together in my head and trying to mind a melody, and basically just paying a lot more attention than I used to. Anyway what I guess I’m asking is, do you think listening to classical music might have improved my concentration, or has it just made me better at listening to classical music?
Haven’t there been notions that listening to classical music pre-natally is supposed to develop the brain faster? Or something. I vaguely recall 1970’s era claims that it made plants grow faster too.
That said I love having classical on as background music. There’s plenty of pieces that are awesome played full volume, too. I’m not enough of a buff to rattle off tons of recommendations - FlyingRamenMonster - check out Mussorsky’s Pictures At an Exhibition; available on CD. Truly excellent piece of music, trust me. And it sounds great played REALLY LOUD.
Emerson Lake & Palmer did a pretty freaky version of it…way back in the day. I have it, too.
It’s just familiarity, which enables you to take in far more than an absolute newcomer. This is no different than with jazz (‘but he’s just going on and on, playing the saxophone for ever without any tune’), or with folk music (‘Doesn’t it all just go diddly-diddly-diddly-dee?’)
I don’t buy the “classical music makes you concentrate” stuff at all. Listening intently to it can certainly be a mentally-demanding experience, but that’s what you bring to the music, not the other way around.
Another fan of classical (again, in the broadest, colloquial sense) music here, but I could never quite figure out how it was supposed to help you concentrate. One or the other has to take precedence in your brain - if it’s the music, the work suffers in quality and quantity (so that a short paper can take all day); if it’s the work, the music sort of gets tuned out and suddenly, in the middle of a complex metaphor movement two kicks in and you lose your train of thought.
Maybe I’m just no good at this multi-tasking business.
I suck at multitasking - if I really have to concentrate, I need silence.
But when I’m around the house, I often have to loacl public radio classical station on - not much talking, no commercial breaks and largely, the music is sort of ambient if it’s not too loud. It just makes for nice background noise.
That probably makes me a real lightweight as a classical music listener.
Me too - I can’t have most music on in the background because I’ll just get annoyed that’s it’s too quiet and I can’t hear it. And if I turn it up I get annoyed at whatever I was supposed to be doing because it’s distracting me from the music. But being able to concentrate on the music at all is an improvement from before.
In college, part of my work study was video-taping a classical music course and playing it back for other classes. It was taught by a very genteel Southern lady who admired not only the Masters (Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, etc) but also Eddie Van Halen. She lurrrvvvved his guitar work.
I did it for two semesters (for some reason, I had technical difficulties both times when she was teaching Beethoven’s 5th, go figure) and I got quite an appreciation for it. I have a lot on CDs now.
As for benefits…I can tell you I was listening to Mozart one day at work while trying to noodle out a problem with some revenue reports. They were simply not adding up. I’d been struggling with it all morning, then all of a sudden, clear as day, there was the discrepancy. How I didn’t see it sooner I don’t know. Coincedence? Could be.