Music Lovers, Lend Us Your Ears!


ST. LOUIS — See if this situation sounds familiar: You hear a beautiful melody coming from your compact disc player. You try to describe the melody to a friend but you find the right words elusive. You resort to humming the melody and butcher it in the process. You vow to avoid future embarrassing situations but you wonder where to go to make good on that promise. Maryville University, that’s where!

Maryville will host “How To Listen To Music,” the next installment in the Symphony A to Z series of classes, from 7 – 8:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 12, in the University Auditorium. The series is co-sponsored by the Saint Louis Symphony and Maryville University. Leading the workshop will be Dr. Edward Hafer, assistant professor of music history at the University of Southern Mississippi, and violinist Robin Kearton, director of the Bow-Dacious String Band in Urbana-Champaign, Ill. Hafer, who has a doctoral degree in musicology from the University of Illinois, said the class will be a basic introduction to the art of listening to music.

“We will play lots of different musical examples and get the audience to discuss what they hear,” he said. “The goal is to help direct their ears to different aspects of the musical texture, such as melody, harmony, rhythm, etc., so they can listen for these elements in all the music they hear.” Hafer and Kearton also will show several paintings and attempt to get the audience to match sight and sound. “Ideally, this will lead to a discussion of how the basic elements of music can be manipulated to affect our feeling and emotions,” he remarked.

Hafer and Kearton are former graduate school classmates at the University of Illinois’ School of Music. Several years ago, they co-presented a series of educational and entertaining talks on music to Central Illinois residents through a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. Hafer said a mutual friend arranged a meeting with Marc Thayer, the Symphony’s vice president for education and community partnerships, which led to him and Kearton becoming part of the A to Z series.

All Symphony A to Z classes are hosted by Peter Henderson, D.M., assistant professor of music at Maryville University, who has performed with the Saint Louis Symphony on several occasions. Tuition for the entire series is $50 or $10 per class for the general public. For more information, click on the “Symphony A to Z” web page at

Maryville University is a private institution offering approximately 50 undergraduate, seven master’s and two doctoral degree programs to 3,422 students. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges, Maryville University prepares its students for successful and meaningful careers. Among Maryville’s most recent graduates, 94 percent are employed or attending graduate school. Approximately 15,000 alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.