Music Appreciation

Spring 2020 Course: - Cancled due to COVID-19

Comment: Online music classes are offered at various places on the web, but I did not plan to offer an online course. Unfortunately, nothing but online courses is possible in the Spring of 2020. And as I contemplate offering online LIFE experiences, my thoughts turn to moderated online discussions. Using Zoom or a similar technology, a 15-20 person group could work its way through an interesting online discussion, with all participants encouraged to share their thouhts.

Appreciating Classical Music [Official Description]

There’s music around us in stores, in cars, on phones, and at home. It’s there, but too rarely really listened to. That’s true for all music, but especially true for classical music. Actively listening to music, particularly classical music, can bring great rewards. But you need to open yourself to the patterns – to the melody, to the harmony, to the rhythm, and to the interactions. The aim of this course is to whet your appetite for classical music, to help you find the soul-satisfying patterns in music from the Renaissance to the 21st century. In this course, we will hear and watch performances of classical music from the Renaissance to modern times. We will have open discussions about what the music means and how we can better appreciate it. Most of the musical examples will be drawn from the extensive YouTube library of classical music recordings and performances; members of the class will be able to return to the music discussed for further study and for personal enjoyment.

This course will include presentations by the instructor, as well as ample time to listen and comment on the music heard.

Dates:      May 6 – June 10 (6 sessions)
Time:        Wednesdays, 12:10 p.m. – 1:50 p.m.
Fee:          $55

Comment (2020.02.16)

This will be my effort to explain what I find so attractive and appealing about (some) classical music.  I will make only a very limited effort to present music that others find to be great but which doesn't do it for me. Specifically, my focus will be on non-operatic European classical music. Operas (and film music) typically focus on a "story" and not musical patterns. And I'm most turned on my the musical patterns that I can find in classical music. That said, I am committed to presenting courses that are: Educational, Engaging and Entertaining.

Educational: My hope is that everyone in the class (myself included) will discover new and rewarding classical music. And take the first steps to explaining and deepening our understanding of why music can be so rewarding an experience.

Engaging: Everyone in the class should feel that their views can be expressed and considered. Rewarding discussion should be a regular part of this course.

Entertaining: The actual classroom experience should be entertaining. The music we watch and listen to should entertain as well as enhance our understanding of the musical content. The experience should never be dull and boring.

The course will be light on musical theory. Most of what we'll need from musical theory can be found in the following graphic:


7 Elements of Music
7 Elements of Music: Availabel as a pdf file


The course will touch on pre-Baroque, Baroque, Classical, Early Romantic, Late Romantic, and Modern classical music. That divides the universe of considered classical music into six periods, which fits nicely into the six sessions of the course. One of my musical concerns has long been on the patterns that can be found in music. Gestalt psychology sheds some light on patterns and their importance in music. More recent work in the cognitive sciences sheds even more light on the subject. It seems we're "wired" to recognize and respond to patterns. We don't hear the way a mi

crophone would. There seems to be a pre-conscious pattern recognition possible that kicks in before we're consciously aware of hearing music. I plan to spend at least a little time on the science behind hearing.

As always, I welcome comments and suggestions from class particpants.