The purpose of the Minnesota High School Music Listening Contest is to assist teachers in their efforts to expand the music experiences of students -- primarily through the use of Western art music, commonly referred to as classical music. The contest materials cover classical music, global perspectives and a variety of musical influences. The objective of the contest is to inspire students to become lifelong participants in the musical experience.
Although the current program draws over 200 teams annually, the Minnesota High School Music Listening Contest had a humble beginning over 20 years ago. Dr. Ivan Olson, author of The Arts and Critical Thinking in American Education, recalls the program's initial years:
"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. Thirty years' teaching secondary and college students, along with my doctorate from the University of Michigan in music education and musicology had left a deep impression in my mind that listening skills development must receive more attention.
"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. The first winning school was St. Cloud Technical High School, coached by orchestra director Steve Eckblad. Steve's team was brilliant, all the other teams did well, and all the students involved felt like winners.
"After a modest growth to 14 schools (four schools cancelled because of budget or schedule problems) in 1989-90, Minnesota Public Radio joined forces with us, and the number of schools in the 1991-92 contest grew to over 40. The
1992-93 contest registered over 80 schools."
From an article entitled "The Minnesota High School Music Listening Contest:
A National Model for a Partnership of Colleges, High Schools, and Public Radio"
written by Dr. Ivan Olson, Director, Music Education Network School of Education
at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
and presented at the College Music Society 1993 Annual Meeting, Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis, MN
Anoka Ramsey Community College
Gary Gratz, treasurer
McNally Smith College of Music, St. Paul
Houston High School
Pine Island High School
Chris Jannings, past president
Roseville Area High School
Joe Mish, president
Pine Island High School
Deb Nelson, program coordinator
Home School Liaison
Melissa Ousley, secretary
Music Listening Contest Alumnus
St. Cloud Tech High School
"What Kids Know About Classical Music"
Interview from MPR's Chris Roberts
Jan. 30, 1998