Composers in the USA

Ref: C2338880

Students on this course will be able to chart the course of American art music starting with Dvorak’s arrival in New York in 1892 and progressing through a range of composers in America up to the present day. We will listen to and appreciate a range of musical compositions which represent the development of musical styles during this period. Students will have the opportunity to engage with the lives of composers and discuss their responses to the music in its historical context.

Course aim

To appreciate music in the USA in a historical context in order to develop individual listening skills, via the works and lives of composers in the USA.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • Everyone welcome - participants will want to listen to a variety of musical styles and discuss their responses to the music with others.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • - use my knowledge and learning to appreciate and enjoy music by composers in the USA
  • - identify pieces of music in different styles and by different composers
  • - develop my listening skills to recognise, with perception and understanding, different elements and features of music
  • - discuss with others my responses to music by composers in the USA with other participants on the course
  • - demonstrate an ability to embrace and evaluate musical compositions in their historical context

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • You will be expected to carry out a range of activities in your own time
  • Students are encouraged to listen to music related to the course content.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • The course focusses on developing listening skills, appreciation and discussion with other students. Some students may want to undertake a voluntary presentation during the course.

What else do I need to know?

  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • Students are encouraged to bring a pen and a notebook to make notes: a weekly handout of musical examples will be provided by the tutor.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Modern American Music by Otto Karolyi What to Listen for in Music by Aaron Copland Music in the United States: A Historical Introduction by H.Wiley Hitchcock Dvorak by Kurt Honolka

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full Course information sheet

Composers in the USA


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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