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Hank

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In order to study music, you need to listen to it. That should be obvious, but we do occasionally run across someone who is taking our courses and not doing much listening to music.

I understand that listening takes time, which means it requires setting some time aside. That requires organization and dedication, and those things are often hard. I confess I don’t set aside enough time for listening. There is never enough time to do everything we ought to do or want to do.

But you really can’t study music without the music, just as you can’t study English without reading some books or art without looking at some paintings. You won’t get very far trying to learn basketball without a ball.

In addition to the listening that’s a part of our courses, I write the weekly Friday Performance Pick to help people discover some new things outside of the courses. Most (not all) are relatively short. I look for interesting music that is performed well and captured on high-quality video. Many are professionally done, and the amateur ones are done well.

I encourage you to comment on the selections here in the forum or in the comment boxes on the website. Share your thoughts with others.

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Friederike Lehrbass

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Reply with quote  #2 
Where can we find those picks?Thanks, 
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Hank

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Reply with quote  #3 
The latest two blog posts appear on the Home Page, and that usually includes one of the Friday Performance Picks. But you can see them all by going to "Resources" on the main navigation bar and then "Listening" on the drop-down menu.
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studiomaya

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Reply with quote  #4 
I cannot agree with you more about the importance of listening to a lot of music.

We did the guided listening program very diligently. It made all the difference, in my opinion. In fact, I wonder if you could break out that sub-curriculum and make it a separate course. Or perhaps develop it to the point where it serves as "here is what you need to know in order to be musically literate." Just think how much fun it would be to have exams where you identify types of music, composers, or musical eras.

Right now, it's almost a little "buried" in the Discovering Music course. I'm not sure if everyone is doing it or even finding it. The worksheets force you to listen to every piece carefully six times; they juggle the order of the pieces so that you don't develop a lazy ear. The pieces are also available as links in the course, but that leads one to just listen to it once, while studying that particular unit. What was extra helpful was the need to listen to the pieces repeatedly, out of order, and not necessarily while you are studying it.

Last thing...probably one of Professor Carol's most quotable bits of advice for my girls is the admonition to listen to a piece of music several times to give it a chance, before deciding whether you like it or not. It's so true that your ears don't want to like things until they get used to it. We've taken to holding back our reaction/criticism on a new song, even a pop song, until we've heard it "enough" times to decide.


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Hank

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Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks for your comments. I'm glad to hear the guided listening plan worked well for you. I'm sure you're right that everybody is not doing it, although we explain it in the intro to the course. In the online version, the link to the plan is in the help section at the top of every page.

Our focus in "Discovering Music" is on history and the importance of the arts to the study of history. We didn't want to make it a typical musical appreciation course where we would walk the student through individual pieces of music. So Carol's lectures in the videos are about the big picture and about the interaction of the arts with politics, religion, philosophy, technology, and everything else. The reasons and benefits of doing it that way are many, but that's a different topic. 

Obviously we want the student to come away with a much better understanding of music, and that requires some serious listening. So we provide access to a lot of music, point the students to a good sampling that is not overwhelming, and provide some pedagogical tools for getting the most out of it. We are more interested in teaching good listening skills and an appreciation for the incredible beauty of Western art music than we are in teaching specific pieces.

As for making the listening a separate course, we can add that to our list of things to do when we find the time. It would be more like "music appreciation," which is perfectly good thing to study. We have several new projects that are keeping us very busy. For now, our efforts in the listening department are going into the Friday Performance Picks. That weekly series is more about expanding your knowledge of music and encountering some new things than it is about digging into details. But it will gradually build a resource that we might later use in a more structured way.
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