Music department hosts Listening Contest


Nicole Girgen

Minnesota State Academy for the Blind students Ana Sikhashvili and Rocky Hart participate in the High School Music Listening Contest regional event which took place at Winona State on Friday, Jan. 19. This is the first year the Academy for the Blind has participated in the contest, the students were able to study using a customized braille study guide.

Lauren Gennerman, features reporter

Winona State University’s department of music hosted the annual Minnesota High School Music Listening Contest (MLC) in the Performing Arts Center on Friday, Jan. 19.

The Minnesota High School Music Listening Contest includes five rounds of competition. The first round has teams name the time and composer of a piece of music, and the second round involves six selections of music with twenty questions on those selections. Round three is a lightning round with twenty “name that tune” selections with under ten seconds of the pieces played. Round four is twenty questions from the study books given to students upon registration and round five is a mystery.

Each team is made up of three students and an adult advisor oversees a team from a particular school or organization. Each team costs $99 to register. There is no limit on the number of teams a school or organization may sponsor. However, only one team from an organization may advance to the Championship Contest. The contest is open to all high school students in public, charter, private, and home schools in Minnesota and adjoining states.

Paul Grupe is the regional manager of this event. Grupe had coached teams in this contest since 1990 and became a member of the State Board in 1999.

“This contest exposes high school students to classical music from early Renaissance period through 21st century music,” Grupe said. “It provides an in-depth study of classical music and its influences.”

This year, the featured composer was Beethoven, the featured genre was concerto, and the featured ethnomusic, which is the study of the music of different cultures, was Russian. Christopher Jannings, a Minneapolis music educator and conductor, wrote this year’s 100-page study guide for students to prepare for this event. Jannings is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Minnesota.

Ivan Olson helped create the High School Music Listening Contest and is author of the book “The Arts and Critical Thinking in American Education.”

“In 1987 the Minnesota State University system granted funds for me to develop a pilot music education project devoted to music listening skills at the secondary level,” Olson said. “After a year of planning, I enlisted the help of two of Minnesota’s finest artist/teachers, pianist Donald Betts, and conductor Jere Lantz. Together, we worked and planned with four high school music teachers who shared our concerns. The result was the initial High School Music Listening Contest in 1988 which involved 10 high schools from all around the state of Minnesota.”

Since its humble beginnings, the contest has grown to include over 140 teams from 55 schools. 

“The MLC provides a unique opportunity for students to develop team-building skills while increasing their musical knowledge,” the Minnesota High School Music Listening Contest website said. “But the most important reason to encourage your students to participate is because this program will inspire them to become lifelong participants in the musical experience. They will start on a journey of musical discovery that will motivate them to learn more about the world — and about themselves.”