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Crash course on Western music

If you slept through your youth and suddenly awoke to find your child more knowledgeable than you about music, fret not. Why don't you take up this crash course on understanding music?

Sitting between a large middle-aged lady who keeps interrupting the speaker with her notions on Beethoven and Bach, and a 20 something man who has turned his cap backwards and doesn't say anything except stare at the speaker, I am being introduced to music.


British pianist and teacher at FSM Ryan Lewis, conducts a weekly course
that seeks to introduce music to adults. Subjects covered include the
first recorded instances of music, and the birth of various genres like
Western classical, Rock and Roll and Jazz.
Pic/ Bipin Kokate


Titled Introduction to Music, Furtados School of Music (FSM) has just introduced a crash course in music appreciation for adults. Apparently similar classes for children were a big hit, but they realised that children's parents were equally in need of and interested in such a course.

And it is definitely a crash course. Just the first introductory session covered the period from 1300 to 1830 AD, from when music was apparently first recorded (people singing in churches) to the end of the classical era (known for Beethoven and his contemporaries).

Teaching us at the FSM building, a two-storied structure on a picturesque slope on Nepean Sea Road, is a lithe young British pianist and teacher at FSM, Ryan Lewis. Lewis shuffles between his computer and blackboard while teaching. On the board, he marks out periods and talks about how music shaped up in those times, often messing up spellings (Renaissance becomes Renaisance, medieval medival); the middle aged lady is, however, quick to correct him.

On the computer, he plays pieces from various eras. The first is a piece performed in a church, and according to Lewis, sometime between 1300 and 1500. It has only vocals, and according to Lewis is reflective of a time, when music was simply vocals, and instrumental music hadn't really caught on.

The second period (1500-1650 AD) apparently saw the usage of instruments, but was regarded informal and only performed by peasants. The class carries on further, talking about various eras and the music it created, with the middle-aged lady's interruptions and deliberations getting more frequent. 

Did one learn anything? For starters, I learnt that a concerto is pronounced k?n-'cher-(,)to and not 'k n-,s?rt-o. I also picked up a lot of trivia: Beethoven studied under Joseph Haydn and Haydn didn't particularly like him; Beethoven was so deaf when his Symphony No.9 was first performed that he didn't hear the roaring applause in the auditorium, until his friend turned him around to face the audience. It's a bit rudimentary, but I guess, it's only going to pick up. Next up are classes on jazz music and rock and roll.

The weekly course runs at FSM, 14 LD Ruparel Marg, Near Priyadarshini Park, Napean Sea Road. Classes will be held till October 19; 6.30pm, Tuesdays or 6.30 pm, Wednesday. Call 66155151

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