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Classical music to knock writer's block

Writer's block Jay Gabler/APM

When words feel clumsy and cumbersome, the right music can drown out distractions that can get in the way. Studies show that certain music improves the ability to stretch imagination and helps in problem-solving. When you're facing writer's block, classical music can help you let go of the outside world and concentrate on the task at hand.

Not sure what to listen to? Here's a playlist to get you working.

The Secret Garden score by Zbigniew Preisner

Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner creates, at times lush and others dark and heavy, worlds that invoke hope and sadness. His score for The Secret Garden (1993) is the perfect background for a fertile work environment. Preisner's haunting music features a ghostly, tremulous flute, along with the omnipresent piano, evoking the melancholy side of Chopin.

Trio For Piano, Violin and Violoncello in F Minor, Op. 65: III Poco Adagio by Antonin Dvorak

Cast as a trio, the piano, violin, and cello marry wonderfully on these pieces. The three instruments dance gracefully and leave room to breathe. Dvorak pulls listeners in by subtle coaxing, rather than dragging them by the hand.

Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85 by Edward Elgar

My favorite soloist who has recorded this classic concerto is Jacqueline du Pre. While her career was cut short to multiple sclerosis, du Pre's precocious mastery eclipsed the achievements of many of her peers. Du Pre's playing was lyrical, mercurial, passionate, and energetic. She had the ability to make the cello sound like a human voice and she didn't fit into anyone else's mold.

Symphony No. 25 in G Minor: Allegro con brio by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Drawn-out to capture the romance of Mozart's expression, repeated listenings bring out the nuances that connect the deliciously somber opening to the bright and furious bridge. Perfect when you are feeling uninspired or lethargic.

Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 30: No. 1. Andante Expressivo in E Flat by Felix Mendelssohn

Leaning towards the meditative approach, Mendelssohn's music is slowed to a pace to allow the listener into greater passages of detail — sometimes lost on piano players who are intent on rushing through their interpretations.

Concerto in E Minor for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 64, II: Andante by Felix Mendelssohn

It was difficult to repeat a composer twice on this list, but Mendelssohn is an expert at crafting transparent layers that seem to fill the air with orbs of light that dance in the spaces that aren't being used by many other composers.

Swan Lake, Op. 20a, Danses des cygnes: II. Andante by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky

Yes, this is Tchaikovsky at his heart-beating best, heavy with emotion and quick as the brain scampers over a lifetime of images. Swan Lake is one of his most famous compositions, full of life.

Harvest II by Jacob Pavek

Jacob Pavek, a St. Paul resident, builds dense lives in his piano tracks. Pavek's intelligence shines through his music, and it will surely make you want to put words to paper.

Youa Vang is appreciative of all genres of music — even country. When not writing about music, she can be found working on her standup comedy and cross-stitching mischievous sayings while watching The Simpsons.

Writer's block Jay Gabler/APM

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