Back to School – the Joy of Learning (minus the stress)

A very close family friend of ours who was a prominent and extremely successful barrister recently decided to retire to go back to school. He has chosen to study archaeology, one of his passions, and has just started his first year. I imagine the whole experience – the learning process, the integration into a strange environment where kids speak a language you’re no longer able to relate to, the unfamiliar IT tools – is all very exciting, but also extremely stressful for someone who left college over 30 years ago.

I definitely wouldn’t like to be in his shoes, although it was a close call for me. No, I didn’t discover a passion for archaeology; rather, as I was selling my business, I gave serious consideration to going back to school. I was of course very tempted to take a course in music, but also in history, which was my best subject when I was in secondary school.

I didn’t want to join a normal course since I couldn’t see myself seated next to kids who are practically my children’s age. I’d considered the adult learning programmes given by the local universities, but after some reflection I gave up the idea for two main reasons: I hate homework, and didn’t wish to give up my flexibility to travel.

Luckily for me, I discovered a great alternative. It all started when I visited Prague a few years ago, during a marvellous one-week stay organised by YPO, of which I was a member. On top of the usual tourist attractions, this sojourn consisted of a number of lectures on a variety of topics: politics, arts, history and of course music. As we all know, Prague was and still is a city very much devoted to music.

The professor who lectured us on Mozart, Dvořák, Smetana et al was Robert Greenberg, a knowledgeable, fascinating and lively speaker with a great sense of humour. His presentation was mesmerising, and he kept the whole audience captivated the entire time.

To my delight, I later found out that Professor Greenberg recorded a whole series of music lectures for The Teaching Company, which you can order online. I got “Bach and the high Baroque”, “How to understand Opera” plus a few more.

Now I have the brilliant professor all to myself at whatever time suits me. The lectures are quite technical but very accessible, and the beauty of it is that there is no homework or exams! This is a series I would recommend to those interested in learning more about music to augment the joy of listening to it.

Related videos:

Music: Heart, Soul and Dollar – Robert Greenberg

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