Teaching Students About the Classical Concerto


The classical concerto, an integral part of the Western classical music tradition, is an exciting and engaging topic for students to explore. This style of music offers rich layers of musical expression, combining solo instruments and orchestras into one captivating ensemble. By teaching students about classical concertos, we provide them with a deeper appreciation for music history as well as a more profound understanding of the artistry involved in composing and performing these masterpieces.

Historical Background

The concerto’s roots can be traced back to the Baroque period, although it reached its peak during the Classical era (roughly 1750 to 1820) when composers like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Joseph Haydn made significant contributions to the form. The most common type of classical concerto is the solo concerto, which typically features one primary soloist accompanied by an orchestra.

Key Elements

When teaching students about classical concertos, it is crucial to focus on the key components that make this genre unique:

Concerto Form: Classical concertos typically have three movements – fast, slow, and fast – allowing for a range of emotions and musical styles throughout the piece. Students should learn to recognize the structure and movement transitions in any given concerto.

Dialogue Between Soloist and Orchestra: One of the defining aspects of a classical concerto is the interaction and exchange between the soloist and orchestra. This element sets it apart from other forms of classical music. Help students understand this dialogue by analyzing famous pieces such as Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 or Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major.

Virtuosity: The technical demands on soloists in classical concertos are often high, showcasing their skills and mastery. Introduce your students to some of history’s greatest virtuosic performances, emphasizing how such skillful musicianship has shaped the genre’s development.

Orchestration: The orchestration in a classical concerto is equally important to the solo instrument, creating a harmonious balance and complementing the featured soloist. Guide your students in recognizing different instruments and their contributions to the overall piece.

Incorporating Multimedia

To fully engage students with the classical concerto, use multimedia resources to provide supplementary material:

Music Recordings: Share various interpretations of famous classical concertos by different performers and conductors, helping students grasp how musicians can shape and personalize a piece.

Watching Live Performances: Take your students to local concerts or provide recordings of live performances, demonstrating the powerful energy and passion involved in bringing these works to life.

Interviews with Musicians: Share interviews or documentaries featuring renowned musicians discussing their experiences with classical concertos, providing insight into the technical demands and emotions ingrained in these compositions.


Teaching students about classical concertos is an enlightening experience that can foster not only a deep appreciation for music history but also an understanding of intricate musicianship. By incorporating multimedia resources and emphasizing key elements, educators can successfully guide students in exploring this captivating genre while inspiring them to appreciate the beauty of classical music as a whole.

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