Makron was among the most prolific Athenian artists of red-figured pottery in the early decades of the 5th century B.C. He partnered almost exclusively with the potter Hieron. According to Boardman (Athenian Red Figure Vases, The Archaic Period, p. 140), most of Makron's vases "carry groups of men, women and youths, dancing or passing the time of day together with a number of the usual Dionysiac, symposion and athlete subjects." For two skyphoi by the painter (in Boston and London, respectively) see nos. 308-309 in Boardman, op. cit.
The subjects on the two sides of this skyphos relate to the ideals of performance and practice among Athenian youth. Musical contests often accompanied athletic games (see p. 56ff. in Neils, Goddess and Polis, The Panathenaic Festival in Ancient Athens). However, the kithara was the instrument of competition, not the lyre, as shown here. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the two sides of this vase do not illustrate preparations for a particular contest, but rather show the expected study pursued by Athenian boys to achieve success in athletics and music.
The column depicted on the side with the discus thrower locates these scenes within the palestra. As Herrmann and Kondoleon explain (Games for the Gods, The Greek Athlete and the Olympic Spirit, p. 125), "Participation in the activities at these facilities was the key experience for young sons of the elite. Here, their bodies and minds were engaged, for aside from being training grounds for athletic exercise and competition, gymnasia were sites for lessons in philosophy and music." The pairing of athletic training and musical training can also be found on a black-figured skyphos (cat. no. 128, op. cit.) with a young boy holding a strigil and aryballos during a lyre lesson.