The emphasis in the music appreciation curriculum is exposure to well-known classical pieces to encourage an enjoyment of music.
Classical British educator Charlotte Mason wrote,
The question is not, – how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education – but how much does he care?
Though pieces should be introduced by composer and title, the ultimate goal is not to memorize composer names and details. A love and appreciation of music is encouraged in the student through a combination of composer study, music theory instruction, classical music exposure and analysis.
Musical concepts are cycled through multiple times in to build knowledge gradually. Each approximately three units could be completed in one academic year, but can also be begun at any time. Each Music Appreciation unit mirrors the partner unit in the Folk Song & Musicianship curriculum (for example, each Unit 1 has similar objectives). Both curricula will use common terms and try to stay at similar levels of technical expertise and application.
The history of tonal western classical music roughly from the time of Bach to the time of Beethoven encompasses most of what has historically been recognized as the great music of the western classical canon. It centers on the emergence of the sonata-allegro form reaching its pinnacle in the symphony, but also present in the string quartet, the sonata, and many other forms.
At its most basic, the sonata-allegro form parallels the development of the modern novel and strives to make the entire movement an organic unit where themes emerge, develop, and resolve their conflict. Internal rules and organizational principles give form and structure to the music and understanding these principles help to enrich the listening experience.
This style of music emerged largely in the romantic period and is the most legitimate form of tonal classical music in composition today. This type of music follows an external story or narrative that creates its internal structure. Initially found in tone poems, and ballets, it welcomed the advent of the cinema and movie music is one of the most common places it is seen today. Because the music depends on an external narrative, the complete experience requires more than listening to the music in isolation. Often a story, film, or additional narrative needs to be read or experienced alongside the music.