Concert Report Format

Please follow this overall format for your concert report. This outline is the required format for the assignment. (Note that this paper does not use the familiar essay format.) If you believe that there are reasons to depart from this format based on the unusual nature of the concert you attended you should consult with the teacher before finalizing the paper to determine what to do. Papers that diverge substantially from the required format may earn a lower grade or even not be accepted, in which case no credit will be given for the assignment.

  • The report must be typed and it must be double-spaced.
  • Please do not add additional unnecessary space between paragraphs or between sections of the report.
  • Not counting any cover page or other attachments, a typical concert report will have a length of between three and six pages.
    • It is difficult to imagine an excellent concert report that would be shorter than three pages.
    • If your paper is much longer that six pages you should make sure that your writing is concise and carefully edited. In particular, papers that are excessively long and which do not appear to have been very carefully edited will likely early lower grades. (Longer is not necessarily better.)
    • There may be occasional exceptions to the length guidelines in unusual situation, but you should discuss them with the teacher well before submitting your paper.
  • You are required to include the original (not a photocopy) of the program page from the concert program and the ticket stub.
    • There will be a grade penalty for omitting these materials, and the paper may not be accepted at all if the lack of a program makes it impossible to verify that the entire concert was covered in the report.
    • Forgetting to pick up tickets, forgetting to save them, or losing them after the concert are not excuses for failure to include them.
    • If no tickets were available at your concert — for example, at some free concerts — you must individually discuss how to handle this with the instructor well before the assignment deadline.
  • All support materials (e.g. – program and ticket stub) must be securely STAPLED to the concert report. To ensure that these materials do not become separated from the report, write your name on the program and the ticket stub.

Note that the most important material in your report is contained in your objective descriptions. In a typical paper the objective descriptions will comprise the distinct majority of the report and the subjective reaction and quality of performance sections should be much shorter. If the amount of subjective material approaches the amount of objective description material you should consider shortening the subjective descriptions and/or including more details in your objective descriptions. A useful rule of thumb might be that, roughly speaking, the objective descriptions might comprise at least 75% or more of your writing in the report, though some variations are to be expected.

Format Outline

(The following text outlines the format of the concert report, describes the content of each section, and offers important guidelines to follow when writing your report. Read it carefully, and compare it to what you see in the Sample Report found elsewhere on this website.)

Your name
Name of group and/or soloist(s)
Date of performance

Title of the First Piece

Objective Description: Object Descriptions are your description of what you observed in the music at the performance. Describe each movement of the piece—write a separate paragraph for each movement. Provide a narrative of your observations concerning such elements as melody, rhythm, dynamics, tempo, instrumentation, texture, form, etc. Describe the major musical characteristics of the piece, including the solos, tempo, dynamics, instrumentation, or themes, etc. Note that a “narrative” is not a list or summary – it is a sequential description of what occurred as the piece was played.

  • You must write about every piece performed on the concert.
  • You must describe all movements of each piece.
  • You must write a separate paragraph of objective description for each movement of multiple movement pieces. For example, if the piece has four movements you will write four paragraphs of objective description, one for each separate movement.
  • You should cover a wide range of important features of the music – avoid focusing obsessively on only one or two aspects too much.

Keep in mind that the primary content of your paper is the objective description material. Other required components such as the subjective reaction and quality of performance sections should normally comprise a much smaller portion of the overall report.

IMPORTANT: The objective descriptions must consist solely of your own observations about the music as performed at the concert you attended. Your paper may not include facts about the music from other sources including: program notes, the web, liner notes, other students, the text, etc. Including uncredited material from outside sources in your objective descriptions will result in consequences as described in the syllabus Policy on Copying and Cheating. Please note carefully that this an individual project, and not a collaborative project.

Subjective Reaction: This brief paragraph describes your emotional response to the music. Did you like it or dislike it and, most importantly, why did you react as you did? What about the performance affected you? Express your opinion, but don’t forget to explain your reasons.

  • Write a single paragraph of subjective reaction for each piece on the concert even if the piece has more than one movement. In other words, do not write a separate subjective reaction for each movement in multiple-movement pieces.
  • A subjective reaction should usually be quite short, typically no more than a few sentences in a single short paragraph.
  • A subjective reaction is not a creative writing assignment in which you make up stories about the music – do not narrate imaginary scenarios that you might dream up to go with the music. Simply describe how you reacted, and point to elements of the music that affected your reaction.
  • The subjective reaction sections should be distinctly subordinate to the objective description sections – the objective descriptions are far more important than the subjective reactions on this assignment. In short, subjective reactions are  a relatively minor part of the assignment.

Title of Each of the Other Pieces on the Concert

Objective Descriptions and Subjective Reactions for every additional piece on the concert follow here. You must write about every piece performed on your concert, including music performed following any intermission. Your descriptions should present the music in the same sequence in which it was played at the performance. Supply these Objective Description and Subjective Reaction sections for each piece performed. (If you attend an unusually long concert you may discuss this with the instructor before submitting your paper, but expect you will still be required to report on all pieces performed at the concert you attended.)

Quality of Performance

The final Quality of Performance paragraph is the brief conclusion of your report. It focuses on the concert as a whole, rather than on the individual pieces. What were the notable features of the overall performance? Were there far too many wrong notes? If you know the pieces, were there some different or even incorrect interpretations? Were there distracting elements in the performance? Or was this the most inspired and inspiring performance that you have ever heard? Were you emotionally moved by the concert? Were some parts of the concert better/worse than others? Were there aspects that you found especially pleasing? Were there any surprises at the concert? Would you go again? Remember that “music criticism” is not only looking for faults, but is also recognizing the especially good things which happen during a performance.


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