Musicology departmental approaches to Music Appreciation Pedagogy


At TTU, classes in music appreciation need to both maintain high enrollments, while also creating, maintaining, and enhancing pedagogical rigor. Our pedagogical challenge is create courses which are simultaneously involving and attractive to large numbers of students while also making them solid academic experiences.

Something we have learned over the past few years in the musicology program is that all students (majors and non-majors, undergrads and grad-students) respond very positively to a certain set of complementary teaching perspectives and techniques, most of which require new planning and thinking on our part as instructors::

(1) Teaching to students' multi-media, post-literate experience: using sound, visuals, multi-media, etc; also employing portable and on-demand technology;

(2) Teaching musical sound content: using classroom, homework, and skills-teaching approaches that encourage students to experience music as sound FIRST--because ALL music students, majors and non-majors, need to be able to listen critically, consciously, and comparatively;

(3) Teaching musical contexts, meanings, and intentions: we know that all students, and especially music-appreciation students, respond extremely well to presentation of specific musical objects when they are embedded in a web of contextual meanings: history, economics, philosophy, biography, politics, cultural concerns, etc.

(4) Teaching cultural/historical ideas: This in turn usually means that students respond best to themes and ideas, as they are manifested within or across historical periods, with specific musical objects demonstrated to be concrete examples of these themes and ideas being manifested via human agency; (5) In turn, a classroom emphasis that thus links musical objects (e.g., "musical content") and musical environments (e.g., "musical context") tends to make narratives of causation valuable, valid, immediate, approachable, and memorable for students. If you begin a lecture, literally or metaphorically, by playing a piece and saying "Let me tell you a story about why this music sounds the way it does...", you are simultaneously engaging all of the above.

The above articulates a general conception for TTU Music Appreciation courses which we can share and begin to implement across all aspects of the various courses in that area.