Can listening to classical music improve your life？
Clemency Burton-Hill 克莱门茜·伯顿-希尔
an a daily dose of classical music change your life？ It sounds like an impossibly grand claim， but in my case， the answer has been a resounding yes.
We are a music-making species — always have been， always will be. We are also a music-exchanging species: long before lovesick teenagers started curating mixtapes for each other， or digital streaming services enabled us to swap favourite tracks， we were communicating and connecting through music. We evolved as humans by coming together around the fire after a long day's hunter-gathering， singing songs and telling stories through song. That's what our ancestors did; that's how they made sense of the world; that's how they learned how to be.
It is an impulse that is still fundamental to who we are. Yet our own modern lives are frazzled and fragmented to an unprecedented degree. Who， seriously，has the luxury of making time each day to actively listen to a particular piece of music？ Perhaps， though，we have never needed more urgently the emotional space that music — and classical music in particular — can provide. Scientific research is increasingly proving that regular acts of so-called ‘self-care’ can have untold benefits on our mental health and well-being， but personally I've never been able to get the hang of， say， regular meditation or yoga. I never go to the gym， no matter how noble my intentions. I basically run on coffee and sugar. I always leave my tax return until the deadline.
Yet it turns out that even I have the self-discipline to eke out a few minutes each day to stick on my headphones， listen to a single piece of music， and be transformed. Although I have played the violin since childhood and worked as a classical music broadcaster and writer for a decade， I only fully grasped the miraculous effect of a daily engagement with this music after a particularly gruelling couple of years.
It turned out that， when I converted my listening habits into a conscious daily ritual， I began to feel less anxious almost immediately. I curated myself monthly classical playlists with a specific piece for each day. Getting on the Tube and pressing play， instead of automatically being sucked into a social media scroll hole， seemed to be spiritually stabilising. I began to look disproportionately forward to it. And it occurred to me that， if I could benefit in such a meaningful way from this small but powerful act of soul maintenance， so might others.
That question of “where to start” is critical. As with practically every other industry， technology has disrupted the music industry in both positive and negative ways. It's true that the decimation of traditional financial models is generally leaving artists and labels less well off than they were previously. But the emergence of legal streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music has blown open the door to that party in a thrilling， democratising way. What many of us now have access to at our digital fingertips would have been unimaginable even 10 years ago. Now anyone with a half-decent internet connection can explore a musical universe that was previously closed to all except those who already knew what they were looking for and had the resources to pay for it.
I believe the greatest works of music are engines of empathy: they allow us to travel without moving into other lives， ages， souls. They are also robust: they can handle you multitasking all around them， fitting them into your real life. So don't give another thought to whether you have the right ‘credentials’ to become a classical aficionado or whether you're listening “right”: trust me， the only entry criteria is to have ears.
You can listen on your commute; take them with you on a walk; stick them on in the background while you hustle your kids' breakfast or do the school run; make them your soundtrack to fixing dinner， pouring a drink， putting your feet up， or doing the washing，ironing， catching up with emails， whatever it is you need to do at the moment where you get to finally press play. I believe there is very little in life that this music can't beautifully complement. This is music to live to — to live your best life to.