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How to Listen to (And Appreciate) Great Music

Orin Grossman – Fairfield University

We all love some form of music, but we will love it even more when we learn how to listen more closely. The way a piece or a song moves us is ultimately what makes music lovers come back for more. However, the ease with which we can hear any type of music today and the endless outlets for different kinds of music creates the problem of over-saturation. We have become passive listeners, tuning most sounds out and are often unable to participate in a more active style of listening. At the heart of appreciating great music is the concept of active listening—becoming more attuned to the communication from the composer and performer to the listener.

This class will explain and demonstrate the concept of active listening and provide techniques to get more pleasure from great music reflecting a wide variety of styles. We will focus on melody and the different ways melodies can create meaning in music; we will listen to excerpts of music from the classical, jazz, and popular traditions in order to "stretch our ears" and get more pleasure from the musical experience.