Launched in 2011 and offered during the fall term, Oberlin Conservatory’s Introduction to Music Criticism is a team-taught course designed to introduce students to the discipline of music criticism, exploring its history, current practice, and probable future. The prime objective is to develop critical listening and writing skills, enabling students to write lucid, informed, and evocative prose about music and its performance, including reviews of performances, artist interviews, and think pieces. Frequent writing assignments are shared and discussed in class.
The spring term course, Practicing the Art of Music Criticism, is an intensive practicum involving more numerous and challenging writing assignments. Many of the class sessions are devoted to intensive copy editing of students’ writing, using Google Docs to give all class members hands-on experience. Other sessions feature guest speakers as a means of introducing students to the inner details of reviewing different artistic genres.