If you are reading this, then (like most of us) you are quite likely working from home, or simply getting through this period of “social distancing” towards keeping everyone safe. Working from home, for those new to the experience, can require a period of adjustment, and we need to find new routines for ourselves if we are to stay productive.

Although it is a distraction for some, I find music helps me during my daily writing tasks. It’s like a ground-wire for the buzz of distractions around me. There are a great many long-form instrumental tracks out there, easy to find on your favorite music service, which are suitable as background audio. As a historically-minded person, though, I enjoy discovering and listening to older material which I might not otherwise get to.

A few to consider:

• The Library of Congress provides a curated playlist of historical recordings in the collection they call “The National Jukebox.” As stated on the site, the Library makes available “…more than 10,000 78-rpm disc sides issued by the Victor Talking Machine Company between 1900 and 1925. [All these works and recordings are now in the public domain.] Imagine your computer as a new Gramophone purchased for family and friends to enjoy in your home parlor. Audition popular recorded selections of the beginning of the 20th century years—band music, novelty tunes, humorous monologues, hits from the season’s new musical theater productions, the latest dance rhythms, and opera arias.“

Open Culture, an aggregator site, has an extensive collection of free-to-listen music, including that from Bach, Beethoven, and many other composers of the early modern and classical periods. They also provide a long list of free self-paced courses, across many disciplines.

• Speaking of courseware and curriculum, vast numbers of educational providers are offering temporary no-cost access to their materials, as a response to the present circumstances.

• I also enjoy listening to podcasts and audio books – many of the latter being free-to-listen at present. I don’t have a commuting hour right now, but when the time comes again that I do, those help redeem that drivetime. For now, they are useful around naptime.

• Finally, even a simple Google search for the phrase “public domain music” will turn up some gems.

However you opt to arrange your workday in your home, the advice of many commentators seems to be: Make it a calm, pleasant environment, and take breaks. We all can use a break right now, I think, if we can get it.

Author: Dave Davis

Dave Davis joined CCC in 1994 and currently serves as a research consultant. He previously held directorships in both public and corporate libraries and earned joint master’s degrees in Library and Information Sciences and Medieval European History from Catholic University of America. He is the owner/operator of Pyegar Press, LLC.
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