According to good-old Wikipedia, Music appreciation is “teaching people what to listen for and to appreciate different types of music. […] ’Appreciation’ in this context, means the understanding of the value and merit of different styles of music.”

We don’t conduct Music Appreciation here at ITYWLTMT as much as we promote and facilitate it. In my mind, an article like this one from the Open University is more the kind of hard and fast appreciation you probably won’t get in our written content. However, if what you want is to discover music, and get a bit of a back story to enhance your experience, then we may be a good place for you… Here are a few quick-links to the topics I will cover on this page

Getting Started

Classical music is a fascinating world that soothes the soul and occasionally offers an intellectual challenge, pushing the envelope of one’s own taste. For the average listener, the world of great music is everywhere - movie soundtracks, snippets from the so-called classics, and possibly music lessons of our youth - exposing us to musical genres, composers and interpreters. music is a tradition that has evolved over more than 500 years – from the Beatles to the baroque, classical to contemporary, through the great romantic, great music schools and the new voices of the 20th and 21st centuries - jazz, blues, rap, etc..

There is no single « recipe » or approach to music appreciation in the broadest sense, other than to listen, and find things that « click ». One place to start could be a pair of montages I assembled in the very beginning, that followed a special theme I called the musical alphabet. The works that make up thse montages were selected to be no more than a few minutes long each, and purposely span several musical genres and eras.

Click here for the letters A to M, and here for the letters N to Z.

If you find a piece you like, the next step is to look for other works of the same genre, same composer or same era.  In my mind, music appreciation is all about the journey, no the destination!

Another place where you may want to go is on YouTube and discover some great old television programs hosted by Lronard Bernstein, the late great composer, conductor and music educator. Borrowing words from his official website:
Luckily for all of us, it wasn't enough for Leonard Bernstein to compose music and conduct orchestras. He felt equally compelled to talk about music — to try and explain what made it tick, what made it good, and what made it affect us in all the ways that music does. The other piece of good luck was that Leonard Bernstein and television came along at the same time. They were born for each other.

Bernstein's first TV appearances were actually for adults. In the early 1950's, he created segments about classical music for the groundbreaking "Omnibus" series, hosted by Alistair Cooke. But by 1957 Bernstein had convinced CBS to put his Young People's Concerts on the air. To think that for a while there, Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts with the New York Philharmonic were on CBS primetime television!! […] Bernstein's great gift was his ability to convey his own excitement about music. Watching him explain sonata form or the difference between a tonic and a dominant, you had the sense that he was letting you in on a wonderful secret, rather than drumming facts into you that might prove useful later. It doesn't matter what your subject is; a teacher's own passion is going to improve the student's ability to absorb and process the information. Excitement is contagious.

Many of Bernstein’s New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts are available on YouTube, and the majority of them are on the ArtfulLearning channel. I highly recommend watching them, event if you don’t qualify as “Young People”.

Other Sites with Musical Content

YouTube is an excellent source of openly available music and ITYWLTMT is responsible for lots of musical content you can leverage in your own musical appreciation journey, however the Web is full of places where you can find music for download or streaming. In an early Tuesday Blog post, I discussed some of these – others have since vanished thanks to Copyright laws… Here are some currently active sites you may want to visit:

  1. La Bibli Musicale MQCD Musique Classique is a comprehensive music library stocked with « public domain » performances (50 years old and older) spanning a wide spectrum of composers.
  2. Music Library of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, keeps archives of many chamber and small ensemble works performed within its galleries.
  3. CebtreStreams, the streaming audio service of the Canadian Music Centre provides archival recordings of works by Canadian composers, many from the audio archives of the CBC. You will need to sign up (free).
  4. The Piano Society, a virtual community of amateur and professional pianists who provide free downloadable musical tracks
  5. The Luna Nova Ensemble a chamber ensemble from Tennessee, specialised in contemporary compositions.

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