Professor Carol’s Discovering Music course has a perfectly wonderful accompanying “structured listening program” with CDs of all the required listening for the course (although I do recommend a NAXOS membership for about $20 per year so that you can go further into the “suggested” listening list, and certainly a free Spotify membership just because Spotify has a ridiculous amount of music available and is so useful for those “find a similar piece” exercises).
Professor Carol has not only compiled the music for you, but she also has developed a plan so that if you just fill out the chart, at the end of 62 listening sessions you will have listened to all of the works six times. I can imagine the reaction…WHAT? SIX TIMES? Yes, when a piece is twelve minutes long, that feels like a lot. It also feels like it might be overkill and unnecessary. Nope. It’s not either overkill OR unnecessary. It’s actually minimally necessary so that you feel like the piece is your friend. Even if you don’t like the piece–you can dislike it intelligently. I have my girls fill out the forms that Professor Carol provides (she asks them to listen for different things during each listening), and together we debate over whether we hear any harmonies, what the tempo markings might look like, and what a good comparison piece might be.
Before you come away thinking that you have to take a zillion music lessons or play in a band or orchestra somewhere in order to be “musical”–that’s not true at all. I personally had a lot of musical training as a kid but none of my four children have inherited my love of spending many hours alone with an instrument. That’s unfortunately a quality that musicians need to have, and my kids don’t like to sit still for long. However, we are not talking about performing music, but about being able to enjoy CONSUMING music. Not only music that is easy on the ears, but music that is perhaps “deeper” and more challenging. It’s like the hard books you read in school. Some of us can read them on our own, and some of us need a teacher to prod us into enjoying difficult literature. We are so lucky to have found a music curriculum that organizes the gigantic mass of music history for us and gives us a task list that makes this challenge a lot less daunting.