Music History

Music history explores the development of music over time, from ancient traditions to contemporary genres. It encompasses the study of musical styles, influential composers and musicians, and the cultural contexts that shaped music across different periods.


  • Cultural Awareness: Enhances understanding of the diverse cultural backgrounds of music.
  • Analytical Skills: Develops the ability to analyze musical forms, genres, and their evolution.
  • Appreciation: Fosters a deeper appreciation for the variety and richness of music throughout history.
  • Critical Thinking: Encourages reflection on the social and historical contexts of music.


  • Books: “The Oxford History of Western Music” by Richard Taruskin provides an extensive overview.
  • Online Courses: Platforms like Coursera and Khan Academy offer courses on music history.
  • Documentaries: Films and series on platforms like Netflix and PBS explore the lives of composers and the development of musical genres.

Best Age to Start

Music history can be introduced at any age but is more commonly explored by students in their teens, as it requires a certain level of maturity and interest in history.

Equipment and Materials

  • Books and Reading Materials: Essential for studying ($20-$100).
  • Access to Music Libraries: For listening to historical music pieces (streaming services $0-$20/month).
  • Note-taking Supplies: Digital or physical for keeping track of insights ($0-$10).

Weekly or Monthly Cost

  • Subscription Services: For accessing scholarly articles or streaming historical music ($0-$30/month).
  • Books and Educational Materials: Depending on the depth of study, costs can vary.

Starting Tips

  1. Start with a Broad Overview: Gain a basic understanding of the major periods in music history.
  2. Listen Actively: Accompany your study with listening to exemplify the music of different eras.
  3. Explore Various Sources: Diversify your study with books, documentaries, and lectures to gain multiple perspectives.

Recommendation for Practice

Studying music history is more about consistent reading and listening than daily practice. Dedicating a few hours each week to study and listen to music from different periods can be very enriching.

Requirements/Tasks for Mastery

  1. Knowledge of Major Periods and Styles: Understanding the characteristics and significance of each major musical era.
  2. Analytical Ability: Being able to analyze and discuss the impact of historical contexts on music development.
  3. Contribution to Field: Writing papers, articles, or producing educational content on music history.

Famous Individuals

  • Leonard Bernstein: Known for his lectures on music history and appreciation.
  • Charles Rosen: A pianist and musicologist who has contributed significant scholarly work on classical music.

Mastery in music history involves not just an extensive knowledge of musical developments and contexts but also the ability to critically analyze and convey the significance of music in its historical setting, contributing to the broader understanding of music’s role in cultural and social history.


Marching Band