This can be a hectic time of the year. Students are studying for and taking finals, while educators are giving and grading finals. Some people are working required overtime as members of the retail industry, while others are finishing up 2015 business. Several people are rehearsing and performing lots of holiday concerts. Some are spending their free time on decorating, baking, volunteering or buying gifts. Many people, whether religious or not, are probably doing many of these things with Christmas music in the background.
Much of this genre works well for background music. It is cheery, simple and worth singing along with: “Let it Snow,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and countless others. Others however, are more meditative, and it is important to remember to have meditative music, especially during the busy times.
In order to really listen to music, and appreciate it, we need to stop everything else we are doing and absorb it. This used to be the norm. Before we used digitalization to bring music with us everywhere to soundtrack our lives, people only heard music when they went out to find it. Whether that was in a concert hall, a university, a salon, or at home, it was sought out and relished. When we listen to music, rather than just hear it, we can appreciate it at a different level. Now, we have to make a point to be alone with music. By absorbing the music, we hear the harmonies (and dissonances), chord progressions (or stagnations), dynamics (and articulations), shaping (or bluntness), texture (or solidarity), and granted (or delayed) expectations. We don’t hear these aspects of music if we don’t really listen to it. Furthermore, we miss the entire message. “Reading a book entails not only looking at the words but also seeing them, converting the printed words into mental constructs in order to understand the narrative,” Daniel Barenboim, pianist and conductor, interprets, “Likewise, listening to music entails hearing it as well, in order to understand the musical narrative.” Listen to what music is saying.
We have amazing musical technologies that bring us nearly anything we would want to listen to anywhere and anytime, but oftentimes the music becomes just another window open on our desktop. In order to enjoy, benefit from, and meditate with music, we must bring it to the foreground and get rid of whatever else is in the background.
 Daniel Barenboim, Music Quickens Time, (London: Verso Books, 2008), 31.