Subject Advice

Classical Music Appreciation

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I have been a member of the u3a since 2014 and joined specifically to participate in the classical music appreciation groups available in Burnham. I was born and bred in Battersea, London and moved to the West Country when I was 25yo. I have always been interested in music, particularly classical. My parents had a radiogram and a good collection of 78rpm records which I would constantly play and drive my parents mad.

My geography master at school was a great classical music fan. I would go out on geological field trips with him and then go back to his house where his wife would cook us a meal. He had one of those new- fangled radiograms that played the new 33rpm. playing records. He was really into classical music and lent me some of his records which really got me into classical music in a big way. My appreciation has grown widely since those days although I do appreciate some other musical forms.

I have taken lessons on several instruments in the past but without success.

My other interests are travel both UK and abroad, I am involved with Somerset County Cricket Club and for my sins, I am a supporter of Bristol City FC. 


Guidelines for setting up and running a classical music group

First of all, I will provide some guidelines for setting up and running a classical music group.


It seems to work well holding group meetings in somebody’s house, particularly if they have some particularly good HiFi equipment as this can seriously enhance the listening experience. Burnham-on-Sea has a community hall which is divided into various rooms which are in constant use generally on a daily basis. It is used quite extensively by the u3a for other group meetings. Playing music whilst other group meetings are in progress would totally disrupt proceedings.


This is obviously down to the individual group as to the frequency of meetings required and how long each session should last. As an example, Burnham-on-Sea groups meet every two weeks, and each session lasts Approx. two hours. This is usually divided in to a first half lasting 1 hour followed by a refreshment break lasting 15-20 minutes break with resumption of proceedings for a further 35-40 minutes. Of course, this is only a suggestion. Other groups may find a different format more convenient to them, but this format does work well.


It is suggested that each group member takes it in turn to produce a programme of music of their choice to play to the assembled group. This way, we have found that we are able to hear a wide variety of music. It is suggested that a concert programme is prepared by each presenter, printed, and sent out to the members prior to the meeting so that they know in advance what music they are going to hear and preparing programme notes for each item is a really good idea,


The term “classical music” has a fairly wide connotation these days, so it is down to each individual group to set parameters of the music they want to hear. The Burnham groups have set a wide variety of music ranging from early church music virtually up to the present day and does include operatic arias but not complete operas. It is advisable to set up a separate group for opera. However, it should be down to each individual group what music they want to hear or are willing to try.

Of course, it is down to each individual group how they operate but this format seems to work very well.



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