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Classical Music Comparison Group

Classical Music Comparison Group
20 March 2020

Tony Kaye, Harrow U3A talks about how he's managing to keep his Classical Music Comparison group going.

I host a Classical Musical Comparison group. The way this usually works is that we play two versions of the same piece of classical music, a movement at a time, back to back. We tell the class the piece and provide the background behind the composition. We then feedback to each other, with members saying which they preferred and, crucially, why. This is done blind so that people don’t know who the orchestra, conductor or soloists are. We then reveal the performers at the end of the session. This is so no one has any preconceptions about the performers which could impact their preferences.

We sit in a semi-circle and go round clockwise then anti-clockwise discussing our preferences which is clearly going to be a lot harder if we can’t meet up. I thought, ‘how can we do this electronically.’ I set up a website for our group a couple of months ago and my daughter had told me that there was a way to host media on it. I did a trial the other day with hosting two performances of a piece of music on the website and then sending a private link to this round to the group.

I created a contact form at the bottom which allows people to lead feedback. There’s a feedback form at the bottom asking the questions we’d usually ask in our groups: ‘Please choose a version’, and ‘Please share with us what drove your preferences.’

I’m working on collating these now and then will send them back round to the group so everyone can see each other’s responses.

This was one member’s feedback, ‘‘This was a brilliant effort to maintain U3A momentum under current circumstances.’”

It was only a test and we’re thinking of ways we can expand it in the future: we’re considering finding a way to conference call together. We would host the music and share the link in the same way and then, perhaps, after all having listened to the music together video-call for ten fifteen minutes so we can share our responses to the music together in that way.

I think it’s really important that we keep up our ways of connecting with each other, especially for those who might be a bit more isolated. Just getting an email from a friend is really important in times like these, which is why I was so keen to find ways to keep our group going.

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