Appreciate music

Music appreciation allows us to discuss the music we hear.

Watch this!

When we listen to music, we need to know what to listen for and how to understand what we hear. We also need to make a connection with it, and situate it in its historical and cultural context.

Step 1

Listen to the piece using the SQUILT approach

SQUILT stands for: Super Quiet UnInterrupted Listening Time. You want to be completely focused on the music. No distractions. No other sounds. Eyes closed. No need to make comments yet. Just listen.

Once you have listened actively to the piece at least two times, use the Music Appreciation tool to help you organize and write down your thoughts. You can hand in the organizer to your teacher, or use it to compose a paragraph.

Step 2

Personal Connection

Download the Music Appreciation tool.

Music affects each of us in different ways. Sometimes its hard to say how it affects us and why. Use these questions as guides as you describe your connection to a piece of music. You do not have to answer all of them. They are there to inspire you:

  • How does this piece make me feel?
  • Of what does it remind me?
  • What do I like most about this piece? least?

Step 3

Instruments, Tools and Techniques

This is the part of the appreciation where you use what you learned in class with your teacher. Your teacher needs to know that you understand how that stuff works in a musical piece. Ask yourself some of these questions:

  • What instrumentation/sound sources do you hear?
  • What techniques do you recognize in the piece? These would be the techniques you know as well as the ones discussed in class.
  • What do you notice about the dynamics or the intensity of the piece?
  • What do you notice about the rhythm or tempo?
  • What compositional conventions do you notice (e.g. Call-and-response, Canon, theme and variations, verse-chorus, AABA, etc.)

Step 4

Connection to the World

People make music to express their thoughts and feelings, often in relation to events, places or people. Knowing about a piece helps you appreciate it. You might have to do a bit of background research to answer some of these questions:

  • What issues or themes are explored in this piece?
  • Is this piece like another piece of music I know? Was it written in response to another piece?
  • What was going on in the world when this piece was composed/performed/recorded?
  • Who made this and why is that important?