Close reading in literacy

Close reading is a hybrid strategy combining many of other strategies together.  This strategy is used during and after reading to focus on elements within the text.  Annotation is typically used to look for either teacher specified elements or items of interest to the reader.  These could include repetition, comparison and contrast, structural and rhetorical devices, external reference, and more.  The follow up to this detailed reading of the text is to use inductive reasoning to make sense out the observations, connecting them back again to the text to determine why they are important for thorough understanding.

Close reading in music

When doing close reading in music, the student analyzes a musical work closely, much in the same way as they would in a theory or literature course.  They look for repeated themes and subtle differences in the repetition, use of specific compositional techniques, reference to other works or cultural and societal elements, and other structural and expressive devices.  The key aspect to close reading is going a step further and questioning the meaning of the observations.  Why would the composer write the way they did?  What do the observations made mean in the way we approach and understand this piece of music?

Additional resources


Harvard University Writing Center