SYLLABUS MUS 202 Music Appreciation Spring 2010 Cañada College


Professor: David Meckler, Ph.D.

office hrs: Mon & Tues, 1-2pm, 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 (Listen (title) by Kerman & Tomlinson, Brief 5th ed.) is on reserve in the library for you.  Use it as a resource for terms, instruments, and information about composers. 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 3 class meetings. 


The final grade will be based on the percentage earned of total assigned possible points.  Standard grading percentages apply (A = 90%).  8 reaction papers/projects, 50 points each; concert review, 100 points; final essay questions, 100 points.  Other assessments may include discussion points, and in-class writing (5-10 pts).  Late papers will be accepted with penalty until graded papers of that assignment are returned to the rest of the class.  The scheduled final exam time date is 24 May. 


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.



1.       Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4

2.       Nuts & bolts – scales, modes, chords, culture

3.       Beethoven Symphony No. 3

4.       Sonata form

5.       Recording v. performance (Alex Ross, Glenn Gould) & the performer’s role

6.       Shostakovich Symphony No. 5

7.       Stravinsky Rite of Spring

8.       Lyrics in popular music

9.       Blues & jazz

10.    Beatles

11.    presentations

12.    Mozart

13.    complexity (Bach & Schoenberg) & Cage

14.    minimalism

15.    world traditions: Japan & India


Concert Dates (attend one)

Redwood Symphony, Saturday, February 20, 2010

Beethoven Symphony No. 3, the “Eroica,” & other works

8 P.M.  Optional pre-concert lecture at 7 P.M.

Cañada College Main Theater, FREE to Cañada College students


Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, Thursday, February 11, 2010

Beethoven Symphony No. 3, the “Eroica,” & other works

8 PM, UC Berkeley Zellerbach Hall, tickets range from $20 to $60. 


San Francisco Symphony, February 18, 19 & 20, 2010

Beethoven Symphony No. 3, the “Eroica,” & other works

various times, Davies Symphony Hall, SF; tix range from $15 to $145


San Francisco Ballet, March 2-7, 2010

Petrouchka (music by Stravinsky) & other works

various times, tix range from $20 to $260


***most highly recommended for this class***

Redwood Symphony, Saturday, April 24, 2010 

Shostakovich Symphony No. 10  & other works

8 P.M.  Optional pre-concert lecture at 7 P.M.

Cañada College Main Theater, FREE to Cañada College students


Concert reviews due May 3, 2010.  Instructions for concert reviews are on the class website. 

Holidays/no class meetings: 15 Feb and Spring Break, 5-9 April.


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

Jan 2010

DC Meckler

MUS 202 music appreciation