FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- What is Music Appreciation?
- Why do I need to learn about music in order to
- What is the difference between listening and
- What is classical music? Why is it called
- What's wrong with the music I like
- I can't read music. Will I be able to get
anything out of this class?
What is Music Appreciation?
Music Appreciation is a course that has different goals
depending on the instructor, the department, and the school where
it is taught. In general, though, it is designed to heighten your
enjoyment of music by improving your listening skills, increasing
your knowledge, and exposing you to new styles and forms of
Most courses concentrate on what is commonly known as
"classical" music; symphonies, sontatas, chamber music, opera, and
other forms of art music. Many courses, though, also introduce music
from different parts of the world as well as more "popular" music
styles like jazz, rock, or musical theater.Back to Top
Why do I need to learn about music in order
to enjoy it?
The short answer is "You don't!" You have been listening to (and
probably enjoying) music for years. However, music listening is a
skill, and some kinds of music are an acquired taste. In a sense
music is like wine. Your first few sips might not be enjoyable, but
as your experience grows you find your palate growing more and more
discerning. Eventually, you develop your own taste in wine. In
music appreciation, your listening palate will become more
discriminating as well. You may learn that you like some kinds of
music that didn't previously appeal to you. You may also learn to
hear much more in the music you already know and enjoy.Back to Top
What is the difference between listening and
An excellent question! Perhaps the easiest distinction to make
is that hearing is an involuntary activity that requires no active
participation on your part. If you're awake and your ears are
exposed to the air you WILL hear the sounds around you. When you
start to pay attention to those sounds, you move from hearing to
Listening itself can happen at different levels of intensity.
You may carry on a conversation with a friend while still listening
to music or the television. However, the amount of information or
satisfaction you get from either activity is directly related to
the amount of focus you give to it. In the same way, listening to
music can provide many different kinds of experiences. Listening to
the radio as a background to study is much different that listening
to a recording through headphones or attending a live concert.
It's important to realize that all of these different kinds of
listening have value. But, as in the example above, your
satisfaction with the experience will depend to a large degree on
your own focus.Back to Top
What is classical music? Why is it called
"Classical" is a term that has two different meanings when it
comes to music. In the broadest sense, classical music refers to
music of certain forms and genres (symphony, string quartet,
sonata, etc.) for certain instrumental combinations (solo violin,
symphony orchestra, string quartet, etc) and intended for concert
performance. Like many other things in the today's world this
definition has become increasingly less useful as other forms and
genres of music contributed to and borrowed from the traditions of
classical music. In general, though, it's as good a definition as
In a narrower sense "classical" refers to a specific period in
music history and a specific set of stylistic traits. This is the
dominant music style of the late 18th century in Europe as
exemplified by the music of Haydn, Mozart, and the young Beethoven.
The hallmarks of this style are balance, clarity, and proportion.
These qualities reflect the artistic sensibilities of of
ancient Greece and Rome, the so-called "Classical"
civilizations.Back to Top
What's wrong with the music I like now?
Nothing, and anyone who says differently is just plain wrong
(even if it's your instructor). Music in all of its forms is
one of the greatest expressions of our humanity, and it all has
some value at some time in some circumstance. This is not to say
that all music is created equal, or that all music is equally good
by some kind of universal artistic standard. The point is that all
music provides some kind of window into the experience of being
human. It might give pleasure, provoke dancing, encourage
reflection, promote relaxation, incite anger, or inspire joy.
There are as many varieties of musical expression as there are
facets of human emotion. As your awareness of and appreciation for
different musical experiences grow, you'll discover new worlds of
sound, artistry, and meaning.Back to Top
I can't read music. Will I be able to get
anything out of this class?
Yes! In fact, this kind of course is designed expressly for
someone without the ability to read music. This course is about
listening and understanding. While your textbook contains a number
of examples of music notation, they are not essential. You'll be
able to follow the listening guides and other text material
perfectly well without them.Back to Top