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Thread: OK, so I'm teaching a Music Appreciation course

  1. #1
    Senior Member Ephemerid's Avatar
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    Smile OK, so I'm teaching a Music Appreciation course

    Since I was a kid I have loved classical music & over the years grew in my knowledge & experience with it & went to uni persuing a degree in music composition. But you know how if you know a lot of stuff (and there's a lot to it!) but sometimes its hard to explain that to someone who might not have much experience at all?

    Anyway, my wonderful, intelligent and creative girlfriend has long been interested in classical music and we've been doing some "Classical 101" sessions. We do little projects like this together all the time, reading novels together and discussing them, watching docos together, and I'm also giving her an intro to philosophical Daoism.

    So I've put together a CD-ROM of some tracks, a few outlines, and so on, just to get her started. We usually talk a couple hours a week and listen to a couple pieces together and discuss it (we do all this online-- I am currently living in the Memphis, Tennessee and she lives in Christchurch, New Zealand).

    We've already gotten some introductory stuff out of the way, like the various instruments of the orchestra (I used Ravel's Bolero as a test to see if she could identify some instruments & she did really well, even on a few tricky spots), and a bit on interpretation and a quick bit on different genres and a few basic forms (I'm saving the sonata-allegro form for later of course). We've already gotten started on the history bit: gone over a cursory overview of plainchant, the middle ages and the Renaissance. We're about to jump into something meatier with the Baroque era and work our way thru up to the present day.

    I've already gotten some tracks lined up in folders, all numbered in order, for various composers-- its quite organised, but I am sure I have gaps. I also want to make sure that I give a balanced view-- I don't want to shortchange her on composers that I may not like as much (she might actually end up liking them-- I want her to make up her own mind rather than let my own biases sway her-- and who knows, I'm always learning a deeper apprecation for things too, so this is good for me as well as for her).

    I've bought her a Naxos box-set of a sort of introduction to all the instruments and Copland's book What to Listen for in Music (which I read years ago and was a great help, and clearly written). She's really enjoying it so far...

    So basically I'm giving her a sort of Music History/Appreciation 101 course. My question is: Does anyone here know of some websites that could be really good and effective tools in helping to teach about the history & background of classical music & composers?

    Also, any other suggestions or ideas, or helpful tools, websites? I'm just making this up as I go along! LOL

    thanks!
    ~josh
    "There is no theory. You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law.” ~ Claude Debussy

  2. #2
    Andante
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    Hi josh, I still find it interesting to put say a St Qt on and follow just one instrument all the way through the piece, it is amazing what you can discover even in a Quartet, and it is sometimes hard to keep track of say 1st Violin or 2nd Violin as they cross over each other, then try a sextet and so on. it's good fun

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    Senior Member Ephemerid's Avatar
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    Andante, thanks-- great idea.

    It would be good also for showing how a lot of classical music is often unified using motifs.

    I did manage to put on my first CD-ROM Bernstein discussing the first movement of Beethoven's fifth symphony which is one of the best illustrations of this.

    I'm still trying to put together a good list of composers we'll be delving into. At the rate we're going it will take over a year I think just to get thru the twentieth century! But we're having fun-- she's a real sponge!

    This is just to get her jump started so she'll know a bit more of what to listen for. I can't wait to be able to sit with her in person again to go over the scores together also-- its hard doing this over the internet.

    Andante, not sure what part of NZ you live in, but the Christchurch central library has got one of the most awesome collections of classical music and scores I have ever seen in a public library (when I was living there earlier this year I checked out oodles of stuff!)-- I've never seen anything quite as impressive here in the US (nothing close to it in Dallas, New Orleans or Nashville). If its that good in Chch, I imagine the one in Auckland must be really fantastic!

    I miss New Zealand...

    ~josh
    "There is no theory. You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law.” ~ Claude Debussy

  4. #4
    Andante
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    I live on the Central Plateau [volcanic] in the North Island, just a few k North of Mt Ruapehu so we have plenty of Rock & Roll, I have Christ Church on my Places to go list and will check out the public library, thanks for the tip. A......

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