Creating an Educated Audience

| April 4, 2011

In the past week I have attended two concerts, both of which I enjoyed immensely. This made me think, would I enjoy them as much if I had little or no knowledge of music? The answer, probably not.

A live performance, whether classical, rock, techno, or jazz, is meant to entertain and captivate the audience. Without knowledge of music a person can tell whether or not they like the music and most likely can explain why; it’s upbeat, the lyrics are meaningful, etc.

With knowledge of music, the array of what to enjoy in a performance multiplies. Now the audience can pick up on harmonic aspects of the performance, tone color, text painting. Knowledge of music history helps the audience understand why certain instruments would be used instead of others or the context in which the music was originally composed and why it is being interpreted they way it is.

If the audience members have experience playing instruments or singing, they might have a greater appreciation for what goes in to performing. The time and effort put in to learning your part and deciding how music should be interpreted. They also might have a better understanding of what it is like to work with a group of people with the goal of conveying a message to an audience.

How does this affect us as music teachers? I believe that we have a responsibility to educate our students so that they can have the optimal listening experience when attending performances. We should be providing opportunities for active listening, group discussions of what is heard, analysis, performance and learning the historical context of music. Students may enter the music classroom never having attended a performance of any type; we should strive to generate genuine curiosity and interest in the live performance aspect of music.