My love-hate affair with the classics gave me a valuable lesson about life in general. I learned that if you want someone to like something, the only thing you can do is bring them together, once or twice, and then back off. If you try to force them together again and again, or try to play cute games to encourage familiarity and acceptance, you’ll probably end up creating dislike.

This article talks about one man’s experience with his music appreciation class, sixty five years ago or so. It’s just an interesting read.


Ahhh … Memories! (Warning: slightly lengthy, most likely boring stuff ahead)

When I was in elementary school I don’t believe we listened to any classical music there. We did sing, though. We had books that had old songs in them and we had some sort of music time when we all sang, perhaps once a week or so. I can’t even remember if we had instruments to accompany us, although there’s a vague recollection of an autoharp. I liked to sing, so I was fine with this part of school. We also had music lessons on an insrument of (sort of) our choice if we so wished, once we reached fifth grade. I played (poorly) flute in fifth and sixth grade. I think I ended my flute career after playing “American Patrol”. Exciting, eh? (Oboe came between sixth and seventh, and it was clearly “mine” … so different than the way flute felt.)

In my last two years of elementary school I even sang in a choir and then a smaller group that included something like four boys and four girls. I remember dressing up in a flapper dress (remember making that for me, mom?) and singing “Tea for Two” and “Baby Face” among other songs. The smaller group was supposed to be specially selected (I have to admit I am no great singer, though, so I’m not sure why I was in it), and we even had our own little end of the year party. (I mostly remember collecting pollywogs from a nearby creek, as well as getting all dreamy-eyed over one of the cute boys when “Cherish” was playing on the record player.) Fun times, really.

My family sang a lot as well. I remember singing in the car to and from church. Hmmm. I wonder if that’s just a dream or if it really happened? No, I’m sure it did; my family still likes to sing, and we do the harmony thing and all. I particularly remember “I’ve been Workin’ on the Railroad” for some reason. I sang with a good friend, too, and her family sang together a lot as well. We sang “Barney Google” so many times I’m sure it drove her family nuts, and the entire family sang “The Yosemite Village Store”. I remember music almost always being played in our family car. I remember my father driving me to my (extremely early) Saturday morning piano lesson and I think on the way home we’d listen to some classical program that talked about music and then played it. Such a blur, though. (So much of my life is rather blurry!)

I guess my love of classical music just grew as I grew. My parents took us to California Youth Symphony concerts. I don’t remember much from them, aside from having something to keep us quiet—Lifesavers perhaps, mom? I remember a conductor, Aaron Sten, would sternly turn around and glare at the audience or, more likely, reprimand us if we clapped in the wrong place. But other than that it’s sort of a blur.

I think my deep love began when I began playing oboe myself. It wasn’t so much listening as it was being in the thick of it all. There is nothing like being IN “surround sound”. Being in and a part and feeling as if you are being wrapped in music … or soaked in it. Listening came, I believe, much later. At least that’s the way I’m thinking right now. I can always change the story later, eh? Maybe if things unblur a bit. We’ll see.


  1. I guess we all have our reasons for picking up the instrument. I picked it up because I was too late to sign up for saxaphone and I thought “the reed looks cool!” Little did I know…  

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    I always think it’s fun to hear stories about why people chose their instruments. Often the general public think we’ll have some wonderful, warm, and even fantastical tale about why we play what we play. Most of the time I hear, “It’s because my mom suggested it.” Or some such thing. 🙂