Concert Review Guidelines

Dear Students,

Given our productive discussion this week on the structure and content of various sample concert reviews, I thought it would be beneficial to compile a short recap of the main points we addressed so that you may review these as your write your drafts this weekend (and beyond). Many excellent points were brought up in the groups that we didn’t get a chance to discuss as a class, and this post would be a great place to share those insights.

The prompt: What were the most successful aspects of the review your group “graded?” The least successful? How did this in-class exercise inform the way in which you’re approaching your concert review?

9 thoughts on “Concert Review Guidelines”

  1. I would say the most successful aspects of the review we graded was how he/she described the pieces themselves. He/She named them, the composer(s), and then the pieces itself. Honestly that was really the only good part. The problem many of the terms he/she used may not be understandable to the common Joe. Another thing was it was just very boring. Very boring intro, the conclusion seemed rushed, as if the person wanted to finish their review already. Also after the third piece, they suddenly added two paragraphs jumping back to the last two pieces. It was very confusing. I felt this wasn’t a concert review and just more of a review of the music. I feel reporting on the concert itself, the people, the performers, the environment is necessary.
    The way it helped me approach it was well I already did the assignment, so In my mind I was comparing mine to these. I think mostly mine was positive, just I need to define the terms in a creative way for the common Joe to understand
    -John

  2. Although the review on MITSO was decent, I have to admit that I was quite disappointed with the writing, especially considering that it was “written by” a “staff.” Even though the writer provided great background context, touching on the technical and historical aspects of the composition, the writer rarely pointed out the experience as provided by the MITSO; in other words, what is the purpose of reading a “concert review” if the review has more of a textbook info than a review… ? Reading the review gave me a great incentive to go to Youtube, not to a concert.
    This is a frightful facet; while it is true that I should provide some information/context, I should not let it carry away the review.

  3. The review my group graded was the fourth. The most successful aspects of the review were the impressions, scene, and comparisons. The least successful aspects of the review were the conclusion, organization, and terminology. This in-class exercise informed the approach I will take by being more descriptive and detailed in terms of scene and terminology.

  4. Although I did not take part in the group discussions, I spoke with a classmate and a friend of mine on how to approach this review. We came to the conclusion that while most of us may have a lot of info to write on, organization is key for this review because we must know how to structure everything we experienced while using music terms. Not to forget that what matters most (in my opinion) is the music and experience rather than coining every single terminology.

  5. The concert review we graded was the fourth one. I would say that the introduction and the conclusion need to be improved. The way I see the review’s organization is well-constructed. There are six paragraphs in the body. The writer talks about three pieces of music in the review. In the first three paragraphs, the writer discusses and analyzes each piece by using music terminologies. In the rest three, the writer puts his/her thoughts and feelings for each pieces. One thing I would like to point out the writer’s weakness is ignorance of audience. Before I read that paper, I had no idea how to begin my paper. This exercise gives me some clues to improve my paper such as strong introduction and body, organization, usage of music terminologies, and so on.

  6. The group exercise was surprising because we all basically had the same thoughts on the review that we graded. It was very successful in that it was very detailed about the concert. It was kind of a step by step review and it talked about all parts of the concert and it was even detailed with the scenery. The review was unsuccessful because it could get confusing at times. There was a mix-up in the beginning about what concert it was meant to review, even though it was in the title because another performance was mentioned as if it was being reviewed. Also, the language was a bit too sophisticated. There were sentences full of words that would not be understandable to some readers and it made the review a bit boring. This helped with my review because I knew to be detailed, and organized, but now I also know that using complicated language could set the reader off.

  7. I feel like the most successful aspect of a review lie in the context. The context is the most important part of the review because the review has to answer “Why should I go to this concert? What sets this apart from any other performance?” For example. The review I had reviewed was at the MITSO. The writer often found himself complimenting the piece before s/he even complimented the performer. The performer, I believe is that sets this piece apart from others. It’s the same reason why i want to see Mr. T perform Beyonce’s Single Ladies, for example.
    The hardest part for me to enjoy of a review, is blatant bias. When a performer tends to not enjoy a performance or a song, it’s usually criticized heavily. Unless it is obvious that the performance was flawed, I find that bias just ruins a review.
    This in class exercise really help me understand how to organize my work, keep from bias, and to give a flavourful review. I tried to stay away from cliche adjectives such as “beautiful” or “amazing.” I tried not to bias, but if I do say, sometimes it’s allowed to have some bias if you state it clearly. Lastly, I tried my best to follow the order of performance since it was the best way to keep organized. Organizing work to fit your category made me feel as if the piece were removed. The performer were put on in that order for a reason, and I’d like to keep it.

  8. These are excellent recap points! I hope some of them are helpful to you in thinking about how you want to approach your own concert reviews.
    John: You make an important point about privileging the concert as a whole, rather than simply focusing on the musical features of the pieces played. Going to hear music in a live setting is a multi-faceted experience!

    Lucius: You raise a provocative questions–how can our reviews do justice to the live musical experience? What can we include to convince the reader of the value of hearing music in this context (versus, for example, on YouTube)?

    Timal: I’m sensing a theme here. Many of you are pointing to the fact that descriptions of scenery/atmosphere were lacking in the reviews we looked at. I wonder what kind of terminology you found unconvincing, and what you would replace this with?

    Kelvin: I’m glad you got a chance to review this exercise outside of class time! Organization was a major theme in our discussion and, like you mentioned, it has the potential to distract from the content. How can we structure our reviews to enhance the content?

    Anthony: I’m glad you found this exercise helpful. Your point about “the audience” is important and also twofold: we have to consider our audience in terms of “readers,” but also the audience that was present at the concert–who was this concert intended for? Who was present, and how did this impact the experience? These are questions you might want to consider for your final draft.

    Yvenalie: The point you make about language is important. How can we use language (including all of the music terminology from this course) to enhance our review, without alienating the reader? How can we balance our technical language with some more approachable descriptions?

    Ryan: Yes! You raise so many crucial points–how can we present a highly personal experience in a way that avoids bias? We can never fully remove ourselves from our writing (and we might not want to!), but we should be conscious about how this can affect our work. And let’s not forget about the performer(s) in this whole experience! The physicality of a live performance is such a huge aspect of the experience, and this is something you may want to draw your reader’s attention to in your review.

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