Saturday, October 25, 2014

From the Repertoire

I've been thoroughly enjoying my second taste of the online music classes developed by the Curtis Institute of Music.

Some time ago, I followed Jonathan Biss's delightful Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas.

This fall, I've been taking Jonathan Coopersmith's superb From the Repertoire: Western Music History through Performance.

I like the way that this class moves through a selection of different music from different time periods and schools, so that the class is always varied and never dull.

I also really like that Coopersmith's class is illustrated by performances by the Curtis Institute students themselves, which makes the music feel much more alive than watching some much older video-taped presentation, great though those older performances may be.

The classes are certainly aimed at a much more serious student of music than I am, but they are at a level where even a casual listener such as myself can enjoy them and learn.

Meanwhile, since I do know next to nothing about music theory, I'm happy to have stumbled upon Toby Rush's wonderful Music Theory for Musicians and Normal People. Rush's presentation style is delightful, the poster format works very well (for me, at least), and the individual lessons are presented in small digestable amounts, which fits my stupidly busy schedule.

I still don't understand why Coursera insists on operating these classes on a fixed schedule; it seems like a student such as myself, who has the time only to watch the videos, read the background materials, and listen to the performances, should be able to start such a class at any time. The computers don't care, after all; they have no notion of what day or month or year it is.

But no, currently you can only take Coopersmith's class, not Biss's class nor Steinhardt's.

Oh well, some mysteries are not to be solved, and I have more of Coopersmith to listen to now.

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