30-Day Classical Music Challenge

I have two passions right now, as my Pinterest boards and Instagram account will show — music and food. And I bet I’m not alone

Music has been a huge part of my life before I can remember. My mother is a violinist, so even in utero, I was hearing and feeling music. Growing up, I don’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t learning to play an instrument, dancing, and singing. It just runs through me. So it is no surprise that as an adult, I have chosen to spend my days as a musician and music teacher. And these are things I hold sacred and take very seriously — they bring me immense joy. But they also challenge me to continue growing, changing, improving.

A 30-Day Challenge Improved My Life

My interest in food, specifically how certain foods impact our health and wellness, is a relatively new interest and has only intensified now that I am responsible for feeding the two little humans in my house.

Have you heard of the Whole 30 program? In short, it is a 30-day guide to eliminating foods from your diet that have negative impacts on your health and general wellness (and sometimes without you even knowing!). The program gives strict guidelines to follow for 30 days. You eliminate sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, and most processed foods from your diet. Then, you to slowly reintegrate these foods (if you choose) and to notice their impact.

I did the program last spring — pretty much as a last-ditch effort to avoid going to the doctor and being told I needed a bunch of tests and medicine to fix the problems I was experiencing. In general, I was not feeling great and hadn’t felt great for a long time. I started my mornings feeling exhausted, with a headache, pains in my gut, and a sense of dread about getting through the long day ahead. I was also overweight and feeling completely stuck in a food rut, unable to see a way out of the established pattern, but knowing that something needed to change.

One day, I was wandering through a bookstore, not really looking for anything particular, just enjoying the quiet and being surrounded by walls of books. The Whole 30 section caught my eye. The title, “The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom” jumped out at me. It resonated with everything I had been feeling. I scanned through the first few pages and decided to buy it. I was pretty intimidated by the program, but I was committed to buying the book and reading more.

After a few days of reading the book and reading more about the program and online support system, I decided to go for it. Why not, right? I just might feel better in a month.

The program is definitely intense and can be challenging (at least for me!) and especially challenging to balance what I needed to eat with what my children would tolerate. It took a while to find a good routine — meal prep, finding recipes and meal ideas that we could all eat and enjoy. But as with all things, when we struggle and when we feel challenged, we grow, and we learn the most. And the Whole 30 books, the website and support groups are immensely helpful — I promise I’m not getting paid to say that! It’s like you have a personal coach with you, helping you to make the best food choices and educating you as to why some foods may not be the best choice for your body.

You Can Do Anything For A Month

One of their sayings is “you can do anything for a month.” And for whatever reason, that helped me through those 30 days of drinking my coffee without my beloved half and half. Whenever that sugary cupcake of deliciousness found itself on my kitchen counter and was staring me in the eye, I would think, “I have already made it two weeks, I have two weeks left. I can do anything for a month.” I could walk away, even from some of my most favorite foods.

After 30 days, I felt changed. I no longer woke up with a headache. I had more energy, the pain in my gut was less frequent, and I felt more confident to continue eating better and to start exercising.

I was incredibly pleased with my 30 day transformation. But what truly shocked me and what has stayed with me and intensified my interest and passion for food, was what happened when I started reintroducing the foods that I had eliminated.

I had some pretty intense reactions — of which, I will absolutely spare you the details — to foods that I thought had no negative impacts on me. Dairy, suddenly, was on the No list. Grains and legumes? Only in very limited amounts. And sugar? Only when it was absolutely worth the sacrifice (i.e. my birthday just isn’t my birthday without yellow cake and chocolate frosting…even if I did pay for it the next day).

It completely knocked me over to know that my body was struggling to digest all of these foods, and I didn’t know it. I wasn’t paying attention! , like a lot of working moms, did not have the time to hit the pause button and reflect on everything I was experiencing and to think, Hmm…maybe this isn’t normal? I was putting food into my body every day that was making me sick, and I didn’t even realize it.

This experience really changed how I think about food, how I feed my family, and how I eat on a daily basis. But it also gave me this idea of identifying habits I want to change, making a plan to change them, and committing to it for a month. That saying, “I can do anything for a month” really permeated my mindset and has now seeped into other areas of my life.

My Challenge For You And Your Kids

So, now let’s go back to my other passion — music. Over the last couple of years, my husband Mike and I have worked really hard bringing quality music and enriching musical experiences to children and their families through our website.
Through that work, as well as through Mike’s piano students and my classroom students, we have had the opportunity to talk with so many parents about how to integrate quality music into their family’s daily life.
I think one of the most common questions we get is about how to get children to listen to classical music instead of the pop music that is on the radio. Mike’s response to this is awesome, and he literally answers them with step-by-step instructions on getting from Bieber to Beethoven. (That article is coming soon!)

But since I have had the Whole 30 experience and completely adopted the mindset of “I can do anything for a month”, my advice is to try classical music at home and in the car for a month and see what happens. Commit to playing classical music while you are driving around with your kiddos to run errands or drop them off at school. Commit to putting it on at home while making dinner, doing homework, and giving baths.

See what happens. We know that listening to classical music has incredible benefits for the mind and body. We know that when we listen to classical music, our brains light up and engage in ways that only come from listening to classical music.

So, listen to it with your children for 30 days and see what happens. Who knows? You may feel calmer and more focused when you arrive at work. You may sleep better. You may be a better problem solver. Your children may be enthralled with the music and start asking for more. They may start asking you if they can take music lessons. At the very least, you will know that when you turn the music on, you are nourishing your child’s brain. You are giving them something that is scientifically proven to improve brain function and engage multiple intelligences. Parenting win!

And if you feel tempted to turn the radio to a local pop station, don’t do it. You can do anything for a month, and that sugary- cupcake-musical-mish-mash will still be there in 30 days — but who knows, you may decide that it does more harm than good and just isn’t worth it. (Although, I must admit that the times when a spontaneous dance party erupts in my kitchen over “Handclap” by Fitz and The Tantrums, these are
absolutely some of the best times.)

And because I love lists and I want to make this as easy as possible for you, I have made a list of thirty classical pieces to play this month, one for every day, so you don’t have to go searching for something.

In my opinion, these pieces represent some of the most gorgeous music ever written. I get chill bumps down my legs just thinking of some of the rich and intense melodies and textures that are included here. I love this music and I know you will too.