What is the course about?
This course is for music-lovers who want to learn more about the instruments and the make-up of orchestras they hear or see playing classical music in different situations. Orchestras can be small or large, playing music on their own, accompanying a soloist, or playing for opera or ballet. The number of instruments can vary, as well as which instruments are present, often depending on historical practice. The rôle of the conductor has also evolved, and we consider their function and ask whether the orchestra could actually manage without them. Tutor: Pauline Greene [external website].
What will we cover?
- The names, sounds and ranges of standard orchestral instruments
- The make-up of a typical orchestra over various historical periods
- The changing rôle of the conductor
- How a composer uses the orchestra.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Name and identify by sound the main orchestral instrumental groups (woodwind, brass, percussion and strings)
- Understand the process a composer uses to decide on the choice of instruments for a piece
- Understand the rôle of the conductor.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is a beginners’ course. No prior knowledge of music is assumed but you should have an interest in music and be keen to find out more. You will need to follow written and verbal instructions in English, engage in class discussions and take notes in English.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught using a range of techniques including short lectures, slide shows an discussions, practical demonstrations on the piano and guided listening sessions. Courses use a variety of materials including YouTube clips. Links to these are given on handouts so that further exploration may take place between classes if you wish.
Occasional short preparation tasks, such as listening to a piece or reading a review, may be set from time to time. Listening and reading outside class is encouraged and once enrolled, further online resources will be available via Google Classroom.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
- Please bring a notebook and pen.
- You may wish to buy some of the music, books or DVDs recommended in class.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
To find out more about music history classes and to read our year-long selection of courses, please see the blog post Music history: your guide to the 2019/20 programme which lists our full programme of classes ordered by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details