Normal People Listen: Bonnie listens to Mendelssohn

It’s time for another installment of Normal People Listen to Classical Music!  In which real humans who don’t usually listen to classical music share their thoughts after listening to a classical piece.

npltcmName: Bonnie

Age: 20

Hometown: McLean, VA

Interests: Short walks to the refrigerator, long walks on the beach, and spending time with friends in comedy clubs

Find Bonnie online! and

Piece: “Allegro assai” from String Quartet No. 6 in F minor by Felix Mendelssohn


I’d like to say I’m not a COMPLETE novice when it comes to music. I took a music appreciation and a music theory course when I was in high school. However, both classes ended up consisting of listening to Pachelbel’s Canon in D over and over and over to the point where my notebooks became filled with angry puns like “Taco Bells Canon” and “Pachelbel’s Canon needs to be a canOFF.” (Heads up, if you hate puns, leave now.) Needless to say, “music appreciation” didn’t really leave me appreciating music all that much, and as I continued on down the path of life, classical music left me feeling more lost than a Malaysian aircraft. (Is that joke still relevant?)

Then, this past summer a beautiful thing happened to me and I began an internship at The Kennedy Center where I was exposed to more art and music than I could have ever imagined. By the end of the summer I would even say that classical music was alleGROWing on me, so when my friend Carly asked if I would guest write a review for her blog I jumped at the chance, and then took 3 months to actually write the review because balancing 2 comedy groups, several theatrical productions, a career as a stand-up comedian, work, and school is hard…Who sleeps? Anyways, now that you know that classical music isn’t really my FORTE, but puns are, I feel like we can get into the actual review.

The video begins by showcasing the venue, Powerhouse Arena, which appears to be a bookstore and performance space all wrapped into one, or in other words: heaven on earth! I mean, books and art are two great things that go great together, its like milk & cookies, peanut butter & jelly, or cake & my face. The world needs more of these things.

Then, the video continues and we see the string quartet. I’m immediately sent into flashbacks from PachelHELL, and I remember one of my old notes that read “Obe! Violins never solved anything!” but I stuck it out, kept listening, and I wasn’t disappointed. The first notes of the song are super fitting for the arena, because they are a POWERHOUSE! I mean these guys just do not REST! If this song were to play as part of the soundtrack of someone’s life it would probably appear the moment after they accidentally touch someone’s butt while walking past them, and are forced to decide whether or not to acknowledge the situation by apologizing, because that is stressful stuff!

The song continues on to fluctuate between sections that feel calm and somber and other moments that feel angry and violent. In some ways it’s the musical equivalent of the mood swings I feel when someone tells me they’re voting for Trump. The song even ends on a both physically and metaphorically “plucky” moment similar to when I get up the courage to voice my opinions.

Final Thoughts: You leGATo listen to this. I also highly suggest watching the video, because the musician’s faces seem to express everything from “Oh no, we’re in TREBLE” to “Is the music drunk? Its SLURring everything,” and even “Does my instrument really smell like that?” I might even listen to it a few more times myself for good MEASURE.


Normal People Listen: Tess listens to Strauss

It’s time for the first installment of Normal People Listen to Classical Music!  In which real humans who don’t usually listen to classical music share their thoughts after listening to a classical piece.

npltcmName: Tess

Age: 17

Hometown: Boca Raton, FL

Interests: Government, international relations

Piece: “Auf dem Gimpel” from Eine Alpensinfonie by Richard Strauss

Thoughts: I don’t know how I am supposed to be feeling right now.

At first it was all prancy and soft with that oboe looking instrument and then it turned into a bunch of horns.

What is that tiny looking trumpet and why is it in an orchestra?

I keep flashing back to the time my mom made me take music lessons where we learned all the composers and the notes and I hated it.

Is is possible to play the violin badly?  Or is that a viola?  It’s like the same thing I don’t know why anyone says otherwise.

Oh the tiny trumpets are back.  Maybe the people playing them are just really large in comparison.

This is definitely background music to someone important dying.

Coming soon to Classical Conditioning…


Ordinary people from all walks of life, with one thing in common — they rarely, if ever, listen to classical music.  Normal People Listen to Classical Music will chronicle their listening experiences — their likes and dislikes, thoughts and questions.  Each week, one lucky Normal Person will endure listen to a short piece of classical music and write a response, which will then be posted on Classical Conditioning.

The purpose of this experiment is to present classical music to fresh ears.  What first impression does this music have on new listeners?  What causes perfectly normal people with perfectly normal lives and perfectly normal musical tastes to like or dislike a piece of classical music?

This series is a work in progress, and the first few installations will mainly feature friends of mine who I roped into doing this, but I think it has the potential to be a really interesting and fun project.  If you know someone who doesn’t listen to classical music and you think they might be interested in/willing to/persuaded to participate, comment below or shoot me an e-mail at