Centre for Continuing Education

Exploring Music Course: The Orchestra

Music. Open to everyone.

Learn about Music the smart way with Music courses at CCE, The University of Sydney.

The sound of a great symphony orchestra in full flight is one of the most thrilling sounds in all of western classical music. So many different sounds from such a range of instruments, all working together, sometimes standing out in their individuality, sometimes blending together in one enormous force: this is one of the great joys of classical music.


This music course explores the instruments of the orchestra and the variety of sounds they can achieve, and examines the growth and development of the symphony orchestra. It also explores the kind of music written for the orchestra, by examining some of the greatest composers and compositions of all time. No musical knowledge is necessary.


Upon completion of this course, it is expected that participants will be able to:

  1. List the main families of instruments in the orchestra.
  2. List some specific examples orchestral instruments.
  3. Describe some of the features of the instruments of the orchestra.
  4. Identify some of the different instrument families of the orchestra by their sound.


This classical music appreciation course covers the following topics:

  • What is a symphony orchestra?
  • Symphony Orchestra versus Philharmonic Orchestra
  • How sound is made
  • The instrument families
  • The layout of an orchestra
  • The string section
  • The woodwind section
  • The brass section
  • The percussion section
  • Conductors and conducting
  • Orchestration

Music we will listen to:

  • Britten: The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
  • Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusic
  • Ravel: String Quartet in F
  • Bach: Cello Suites
  • Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker Suite
  • Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
  • Mozart: Flute Concerto No. 1
  • Vaughan Williams: Oboe Concerto
  • Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3
  • Stravinksy: The Rite of Spring
  • Mozart: Symphony No. 40
  • Musorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
  • Gershwin: An American in Paris.

Intended Audience

This course is designed for fans of classical music, beginners and experienced listeners alike. No prior musical knowledge is required.

Delivery Style



Handout of printed notes


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion
Exploring Music Course: The Orchestra
University of Sydney (Venue TBA)
$129 inc GST

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