Music Appreciation - The Orchestra

Ref: C2344460

Students on this course will be able to learn to appreciate a variety of classical music styles and compositions of a variety of different composers. We will listen to and appreciate a range of musical compositions, concentrating on orchestral music, which represent the development of musical styles in the history of western art music. Students will have the opportunity to engage with the lives of composers and discuss their responses to the music in its historical context, with a view to including and considering aspects of the social, political and cultural background. We will chart the development of the Orchestra from Baroque times to the present day. Students will also be able to recommend pieces of orchestral music to the group.

Course aim

To learn to appreciate orchestral music in a historical context in order to develop individual listening skills through the compositions and lives of a variety of composers, including an emphasis on group discussion and learning activities.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • You will need your own personal email address so that you’re able to login to the WEA’s digital learning platform: WEA Canvas. You will need to be able to understand how to follow URL links to pages on the internet. If you want to understand more about Canvas please visit:
  • You will need to be able to follow links to join our WEA live video learning platform: WEA Zoom. If you’d like to understand more about our video learning platform, Zoom please visit: and
  • This course is for a group of around 15 students studying in a live video-learning platform conference and an online digital learning environment platform from the comfort of your own home.
  • This is a live lecture delivered by a subject specialist in an online webinar video learning platform. You will need to be able to access the internet on a device with speakers or earphones. There will be opportunities to take part in discussions and chats. If you’d like to know how to use Zoom please visit:
  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • Everyone welcome - participants will want to listen to, embrace and learn about a variety of musical styles and discuss their responses to the music with others. The meetings are held, and the music played, online via Zoom and educational materials and Modules will be published on Canvas.

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

  • - use my knowledge and learning to identify at least 3 key features and themes of classical orchestral music
  • - identify at least 7 pieces of orchestral music in different styles and by different composers
  • - develop my listening skills to recognise and describe , with perception and understanding, different elements and features of orchestral music
  • - discuss my responses to music for orchestra by composers with other participants on the course and present reasons for those responses
  • - demonstrate an ability to embrace and evaluate compositions for orchestra and describe their historical context

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas will be used to provide resources or to support lessons, enable assessment, provide learner feedback and for other activities for individuals away from the course. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit:
  • Most of your learning will take place in your class, but one or two sessions will be online using WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas, working by yourself or engaging with other students. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit:
  • 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. As music students, all participants will be required to do research, read handouts, respond to questions with their reasons, and participate in class learning activities some of which will include writing notes.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will be able to keep a record of your progress and achievement using photos, audio, text or documents uploaded into the WEA’s digital learning platform, WEA Canvas.
  • Your tutor will provide written, text and audio feedback recorded in WEA Canvas, WEA’s digital learning platform.
  • You will be able to keep a digital portfolio of your work on WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas.
  • 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 have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions
  • A file of work will be kept which will help to record your progress
  • The course focuses on developing listening skills, appreciation and discussion with other students. Some students may want to present recommended orchestral pieces during the course. Students are encouraged to view the course Modules and Discussions on Canvas and participate in discussions online.

What else do I need to know?

  • What you need: You will need an internet connection, speakers, a microphone and a webcam so that you can use our video learning platform, Zoom. If you’d like to understand more Zoom please visit:
  • You will also need access to the internet outside of your sessions. You could do this using a smart phone, tablet, laptop or a desktop computer (at home or through a library etc.).
  • You will need a personal email address to join the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas so that you can receive resources, record your progress and achievement and to work with others and share ideas. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit:
  • 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

  • You will have access to course resources and links to wider learning through the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas:
  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • Students may want to read books on classical music: A Rough Guide to Classical Music by Joe Staines & Duncan Clark Classical Music, by Alexander Waugh The Cambridge Music Guide edited by Stanley Sadie and Alison Latham Classical Music by Julian Johnson The Orchestra, A Very Short Introduction

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

Music Appreciation - The Orchestra


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2020
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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