I was having a hard time listening to some Schoenberg. I said to myself, “Self, turn off the intellectual, just listen to the emotion of the piece.” OMG! I wept. A man who lived in two world wars, and between them, the horror he saw. It’s all there in his music. So that’s my first bit of advice – listen to the emotion in the music, no matter how hard that may be to accept.

My second bit of advice – the emotion is there – it may not be yours or even one you want to hear, but it’s there. So either accept it or move on to a different piece of music. And don’t bitch about a piece of music just because you are not comfortable with the emotions it expresses.

My third bit of advice – especially for Americans – music is not necessarily about making you feel good. Try some music that makes you feel honest, or awed, or ashamed, or horrified. It can do all that and is quite cathartic in doing so. The references are the gamut of human emotion.

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