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Talking It Over -- Appreciation of music can last a lifetime

Back in the mid 1960s, when I was first entering high school, we had a required subject that I believe is no longer offered in our schools. The subject was called Music Appreciation and it was the bane of my existence in those days.

While I was able to catch on fairly easily to most subjects, the music appreciation class simply boggled my mind and frazzled my nerves. No matter how hard I studied the music authors and composers, no matter how much I listened carefully to the songs or read the musical compositions, I just could not catch on.

The class focused a great deal on some of the earliest music leaders and songs. We listened to and learned a great deal about Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and other famous composers. We also studied some of the music from famous operas, musicals and events. I recall learning the songs from "West Side Story," "Oklahoma" and "The Sound of Music." Quite often our tests consisted of listening to the song and then giving the history of it.

I absolutely hated the class, but in recent years I have come to appreciate what I learned. I am astounded at times when I hear a song and recognize that it was written by Beethoven or came from a particularly popular musical. Even now, when I hear some of the Christmas carols, I remember the circumstances behind the writing and composing of the song.

With the difficult time I had in the class, I never thought that I liked music. But I now find myself enjoying and taking the time to watch programs that involve a lot of music. I love to attend the school programs, have some favorite radio stations and CDs in my car and make time for shows such as "American Idol" or dancing competitions. I have found that what I enjoy most about these is the old songs that are often sung or danced to during these presentations. I have to admit that some of the new releases aren't bad either.

It just goes to show that you never know how you will use things that you learn in life. While I really didn't care much for the music appreciation class when I was a 7th grader, I now find that because of what I learned in this class, I do appreciate music.