"I'm not tired, I'm not tired."
Ben Folds sang the familiar lyrics to his song "Narcolepsy" from the stage of Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. His fingers flew across the keys in a flurry of movement and sound. The bows of the violins slid up and down in unison, a pulse flowing through the song. The full backing of the orchestra added a new level of depth and motion to the song I had heard so many times before.
I closed my eyes, feeling the music echo through the hall. I leaned over to my brother and whispered, "This is the best concert I've ever been to."
This was September 2011. I was a senior in high school and at 17, I was finally able to understand the musical education my parents had given me.
Classical music was always part of my family routine. On Sunday mornings, we'd pile in the car on the way to church while 99.5 blared through the radio.
Throughout my elementary school days, my mom was on the board of WAMSO, now called Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra. She and my dad got a calendar every summer and would decide which shows we were going to see that year.
I looked forward to going to the Minnesota Orchestra because I got to dress up and we always went out to Brit's Pub across the street for dinner. At 10 years old, I may not have always understood the music, but they were special nights downtown.
One year, my parents took us to see a children's version of Mozart's The Magic Flute. I was at the age where I was deciding what instrument to play in middle school. I remember being enamored by the concert. I loved the passion of Osmo Vanska when he conducted; watching his coattails move with the rhythm of the music. I found myself staring at each musician and the apparent concentration in their facial expressions. There was energy in every movement and every sound and I loved it. I committed to playing flute around the same time and I know that wasn't a coincidence.
The older I got, the more I appreciated the exposure to classical music at a young age. I'm a college student now and I still find myself seeking out classical music on Sundays — even without the influence of my parents. My mornings don't feel complete without a cup of tea and Erik Satie's Gymnopedie No. 1. as I head to the library.
Whenever I truly listen to a piece of music, dissect the sounds and listen to the composure, I thank my parents. It occurred to me later that I was always one of the only kids in attendance at the Minnesota Orchestra, and I am so grateful that I was. I didn't realize how unique it was to be exposed to Beethoven and Bach as a child. Some of my defining musical experiences have stemmed from classical music. I feel lucky to have developed a taste for classical music at a young age. It has led me to some of my favorite melodies: music that lifts me out of bad moods and perpetuates good ones.
It used to be my parents playing classical radio for my brother and me on the way to church — but I now insist on introducing them to music like my latest favorite, the bluegrass-classical Goat Rodeo Sessions. They have nobody but themselves to blame for that.
Greta Hallberg is a student at Miami University of Ohio.
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