Apple Music Classical: A Nice Start, Needs Some Air

This evening, I got my notification to download Apple Music Classical, which I’ve been eagerly awaiting for awhile now.

My first impressions are quite positive. Breaking away from the simple ‘song-album-artist’ scheme to get more advanced metadata (works, composers, ensembles, conductors) is not just welcome, but handled very well in the app. It’s a very nice way to find and engage with classical music.

This has been in the works for some time, and I wouldn’t be showing proper excitement at something if I didn’t immediately have some complaints with it.

It does a pretty good job of the sort of thing you’ll see on major classical labels, but I feel like it has room to grow when it comes to the symphonic/wind band. There are ensembles I’ve encountered that don’t have their own page, others with multiple pages for the same ensemble breaking apart their catalog, and while I can sympathize with it being a ‘harder’ task than orchestral works, I still feel it’s worth doing. If you’re looking under the ‘genres’ section, you won’t see anything for wind band. It certainly seems as if the line they’ve drawn for “classical” is sufficiently wide to encompass the wind band idiom, given the presence of soundtracks for film and video games.

Still, it’s nice to finally have this app! I think it’s a promising way to surface the source of transcriptions with students more quickly and meaningfully (rather than sticking to the top recordings that a search might pull up in the main Apple Music app), and for any students who use Apple Music, provides a great starting point to getting them to listen to more of their own instrument through those featured browsing sections. I’m hoping that they soon improve their handling of wind bands so that I can pull more recordings into class on the fly, rather than relying on existing playlists I’ve found or made.

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