SYLLABUS MUS 202 Music Appreciation FALL 2009 Cañada College


Professor: David Meckler, Ph.D.

office hrs: Mon & Tues, 12-2, room 3-242  Email: (start subject header with “MUS 202” to get my attention) Voice-mail: (650) 306-3439


Course description:  The course will present a variety of music of different styles and purposes, and provide a vocabulary to talk about this music. Objectives: (1) listen to music and (2) think and write about music analytically.  Assessment may include through worksheets, presentations, a paper, a concert review, listening exams, and brief essays.  Rather than taking a historical approach, the course will focus on several great works.


Warning:  This is not an easy course!  Many people think that listening to music is easy, so a music appreciation course should be easy, too.  This is wrong on both counts.  Listening to music only seems easy because you have been doing it all your life.  Your brain knows more about music than you do.  And that is the second challenge of this course.  We have to translate your music-ways-of-knowing into language-based kinds of knowledge that can be evaluated in an academic way.  Ideally, this translation-into-language effort results in heightened perceptions and greater emotional response to all kinds of music.


What is Music Appreciation?

We’ve all heard of great performers and great composers – what about great listeners?  If you say someone has given a great performance, haven’t you also given a great listen? 


For thousands of years of human musical culture, there was no need for any such thing as a music appreciation course.  In the 20th century, this strange institution arose.  Why?  My guess: before, a person would generally only encounter a narrow range of music and very likely would have first hand experience of making that music.  In the 20th-century, recording technology came along and changed music from something to do to some thing that can be bought and sold.  The positive aspect of this is that now we have access to a range of music that extends across the globe and far back into history.  A music appreciation course cannot possibly cover all of that, but the idea is to present some ways of thinking about music that is trying to be a shortcut for having the experience of listening to countless hours of particular genres of music.  Is that possible?  I have my doubts, but I also have a deep faith that music teaches us how to listen to itself, and so if we can just clear our minds of our own local cultural noise, we can begin to learn to listen in the way that each individual piece and each individual performance asks us to.


No required text.  Required music examples will be on reserve in the library and learning center.  A standard music appreciation textbook will be on reserve in the library for you.  Class notes (a journal), handouts and other material will be posted on the course website  CHECK YOUR STUDENT EMAIL ACCOUNT REGULARLY.  Class materials may also be posted on the WebAccess site ( for this class: log in using your G number and 6-digit birth date, MMDDYY, no spaces or hyphens.


Grading and Assignments

Attendance is absolutely vital.  Please no late arrival, early departure, sleeping in class, doing non-course related computer work or reading non-course related materials in class.  Miss a class for a good reason? You are the judge, but only WRITTEN excuses are recorded.  It is your responsibility to drop the class if you miss more than 5 class meetings.  Late work will be accepted only one week after the due date, with a 10% penalty.  Last day for late work to be accepted is the withdrawal with “W” date for the course, Nov 18.


The final grade will be based on the percentage earned of total assigned possible points.  Standard grading percentages apply (A = 90%).  7 reaction papers, 30 points each, 210 total points; concert review, 60 points; lyrics group project, 60 points; final paper and presentation, 120 points.  Other assessments may include discussion points, and in-class writing (5-10 pts).


The scheduled final exam time will be used for student presentations.  Thursday, Dec 17.  8:10 a.m. NOTE DIFFERENT FROM CLASS START TIME.


Extra Credit

Recognizing that life events interfere with perfect class attendance, extra credit may be earned by attending performances, lectures, concerts, etc.  The extra credit activity must be approved by me in advance IN WRITING – use e-mail.


Academic Integrity = Personal Integrity

You must do you own work unless specified. Severe penalties, outlined in the Student Handbook, will be used in case of cheating or copied work without proper attribution. Plagiarism will result in zero points awarded for the assignment.



PART I – Classical music (8 weeks)
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, and Copland's Appalachian Spring will be the major works studied, but many different examples and types of music will be used.  Critical thinking about the presentation of these works will be a focus.  Attendance of a classical music concert is an assignment.

PART II -- issues of musical meaning (5 weeks)
This section of the course will use examples of music from around the world and different eras; song lyrics will receive special attention.  Theories about why humans do music will be discussed. 

PART III – ultimates, extremes and favorites (four weeks)
exploring extremes at the boundaries of music, concluding with student presentations.  Presentations and papers may be on a wide range of possible topics; an analysis of a favorite song is highly recommended.


Other Dates

1 Sep - Last day to ADD a semester length course

11 Sep - Last day to drop a semester length course without a “W”

18 Nov - Last day to withdraw from semester length course with a “W”


Student Learning Objectives for MUS 202 Music Appreciation

SLO 1 – Students will demonstrate conceptual and analytic thought about musical form   

SLO 2 – students will listen to music and report on their subjective reactions

SLO 3 – Students will analyze the expressive content and means of a music example

Aug 2009

DC Meckler