MUSICAL MUSINGS: Hello, I’m Emma, and I’m an addict

I started using Spotify a month ago at a crisis point—I was out of iTunes gift cards and in the beginning stages of my obsession with “Frozen.”

I immediately loved it. Having spent the last few years debating whether or not to sign up for Spotify. I was enthralled by the chance to listen to basically any song for free. But my mother’s horror stories of online predators made me wary of a program that asked for my location (for some odd reason, it never occurred to me to lie).

However, aside from promptly starring “Let It Go,” the only thing I did on Spotify for the first week or so was listen to the “Workday—Pop” playlist while I made my oatmeal.

Eventually, I began to expand my horizons by clicking on the songs that I saw the people I was following listening to. This is how I discovered two of my current favorite artists: The Avett Brothers and The Mountain Goats.

Nonetheless, I was still at a loss when it came to classical music. I was stuck in a trend of listening to the same songs over and over—namely, “Für Elise” by Beethoven, “The Enigma Variations” by Elgar and “La Gazza Ladra” by Rossini.

All of these are amazing pieces, but after listening to them for the hundredth time, I decided I needed to branch out. So I started listening to the “Classical Essentials” playlist in the mornings and while studying.

Listening to that playlist made me feel like such a cultured and intellectual person! Perhaps it was this facade of intelligence that made me look through the apps list on Spotify and find what I now consider the holy grail of classical music: Classify.

Classify is basically a classical musical search engine (I also recommend Jazzify for jazz enthusiasts). At the top there are featured playlists and then recommended playlists based on songs one has listened to in the past.

Below those are listings of different musical aspects (such as composers, instruments, eras, moods and themes). Each aspect features a variety of subsections that, when clicked, lead to a sampling of pieces and playlists with that characteristic.

As a violinist and avid Joshua Bell fan, my favorite playlist is “The 50 Greatest Violin Pieces by Joshua Bell,” found in the “Violin” subsection under “Instruments.”

That’s when I truly became addicted to Spotify.

Practically every spare moment of my time is spent on Classify. I listen while catching up on chemistry homework, reading “The Sun Also Rises” and brushing my teeth, just to name a few.

I feel so in touch with the classical music world—and with relatively little effort on my part.

Even my piano teacher has noticed my increased experience. For years, she has been asking me what pieces I want to play in the future.

For quite a while my standard answer was “Für Elise.” Then I started playing “Für Elise,” and I had to think of a new piece (I chose “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin).

Now I have a new aspiration every time she asks.


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