Music Appreciation Online

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This course introduces students to the history, theory, and genres of music. The first semester covers basic music theory concepts as well as early musical forms, classical music, patriotic and nationalistic music, and twentieth-century music. The second semester presents modern traditions, including American jazz, gospel, folk, soul, blues, Latin rhythms, rock and roll, and hip hop. The course explores the history of music, from the surviving examples of rudimentary musical forms through to contemporary pieces from around the world.  To comply with certain state standards for the arts, a student “performance practicum” is required for full credit each semester. The performance practicum requirement can be met through participation in supervised instrumental or vocal lessons, church or community choirs, community musical performances, or any other structured program that meets at regular intervals and provides opportunities for students to build vocal and/or instrumental skills. Parents or guardians will be required to present their student's proposed practicum to the student's teacher for approval, and validate their student's regular participation in the chosen performance practicum.


Unit 1: Introduction to Music Appreciation

Students develop an understanding of basic music vocabulary and apply it to Beethoven's Symphony no. 5. They learn the different branches of musicology, including ethnomusicology and music theory, identify the musical skills and knowledge they already have, and set their personal performance and listening goals for the course.

  • Course Overview
  • Sound and Hearing
  • Music Theory I

Unit 2: Music of the Primitive and Ancient World

Students learn the historical path of music from the primitive world through ancient Greece and Rome. They continue their study of music theory, learning how to write melodies and organize compositions around major and minor keys.

  • Music of the Primitive World
  • Ancient Greek Music
  • Ancient Roman Music
  • Music Theory II

Unit 3: Music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance

Students look at the time period from the sixth century, when music was first notated, through the sixteenth century, when characteristics of modern music began to evolve. Over the course of that millennium, the concept of Western music as we think of it today developed.

  • Music of the Middle Ages
  • Music of the Renaissance
  • Early Notation, Performance, Practices, and Musical Instruments
  • Music Theory III

Unit 4: Baroque and Classical Music

Students look at music of the Baroque period, including Vivaldi's "Spring" and learn to recognize major Baroque forms, including the concerto and the suite. They trace the development of musical instruments through the Baroque era. They study opera through Mozart's The Magic Flute, and look at music of the classical period, namely Haydn's "Surprise" Symphony. They learn important contributors from these eras.

  • Music of the Baroque Period
  • Opera
  • Music of the Classical Period
  • Important People in Music

Unit 5: Romantic and Twentieth-Century Music

Students look at Beethoven's music and how it influenced the composers that would follow in the Romantic period. They see the individuality of style and expression, the passion for the subject matter, and the inspiration found in the other arts. They study two other important composers from the Romantic Period and the twentieth century—Richard Wagner and Igor Stravinsky—and learn about the changing importance of conductors in orchestral performances.

  • Music of the Romantic Period
  • Nationalistic and Patriotic Music
  • Twentieth-Century Music
  • Important People in Music

Unit 6: Semester Wrap-Up

Students review what they have learned and take the semester exam.

  • Review
  • Exam


Unit 1: Jazz Music

Students explore the history of jazz, including some colorful personalities—Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, Charlie "Bird" Parker, and "Dizzy" Gillespie. They learn about improvisation and collaboration, and how jazz is an indigenous American art form and a truly American way to understand ourselves. They also learn about a close cousin of jazz: American musical theater.

  • Jazz up to Cool: 1860–1950
  • Jazz from Cool: 1950–Present
  • Improvisation
  • Musical Theater, Film, and Television

Unit 2: Blues, Gospel, Soul, and Motown Music

Students learn about uniquely American art forms - blues, gospel, soul, and Motown music. They learn how different jazz styles borrowed from each other and blended together to create these art forms, and how the musicians who played them influenced American culture.

  • The Blues
  • Gospel Music
  • Soul Music
  • Motown

Unit 3: Folk, Bluegrass, and Country Music

Students learn about folk, bluegrass, and country music, which all have roots in the Appalachian mountain communities of the American South, and share many musical characteristics. They tend to use the same types of instruments, and in many cases they share the same songs. Students learn about the traditional music in which it's rooted and explore the lives of the people who created it.

  • Shared Heritage
  • Folk Music
  • Bluegrass Music
  • Country Music

Unit 4: Rock-and-Roll Music

Students learn the origins, evolution, innovators, and impact of rock-and-roll music on society and culture over the past five decades. Rock-and-roll appeared at a time when American society was poised for change. More than a music style, it became the voice of rebellion and antiestablishment for young people.

  • Rock-and-Roll
  • Important People in Rock-and-Roll Music
  • The Evolution of Rock-and-Roll
  • Promoting Music

Unit 5: Hip-Hop Music and Culture

Students learn about hip-hop, which began as an urban art form that directly addressed issues of racism, poverty, drug addiction, and violence. Students learn about hip-hop in the larger context of a cultural movement, which helps explain how it has influenced other musical styles, fashion, political activism, and more. They also investigate a variety of music careers.

  • Hip-Hop Music and Culture
  • Important People in Hip-Hop
  • Other Styles of Music
  • Careers in Music

Unit 6: Semester Wrap-Up

Students review what they have learned and take the final exam.

  • Review
  • Exam

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