Teaching Teachers of Music Appreciation—What We Can Learn from MGS Pedagogy
Published online: 1 October 2007
Introduction: The DA Degree
The Doctor of Arts (DA) degree was launched in the late 1960's in an effort to offer a degree that specifically prepared graduate students for college and university teaching. While practitioners of other doctoral-degree programs may concur with the notion of the value of teacher preparation, their efforts often are limited to specialized internships or workshops devoted to enhancing teaching skills. However, within the expectations of the DA degree program, teacher preparation is afforded a more central place, and teaching skills are acquired or emphasized through specific coursework and experiences built into every student's curriculum.1 This is the primary, and perhaps unique, aspect of the Doctor of Arts degree as formulated by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) when it initially instigated the program. The degree has caused considerable discussion over the years, and with regard to music, it remains absent from the list of degree programs described within either the 2005-2006 or the 2007-2008 Handbook of the National Association of Schools of Music.2 For a number of years, and continuing into the 21st century, however, four universities offer the DA degree in music in the United States: Ball State University, New York University, University of Mississippi, and University of Northern Colorado.3 Specific to BSU's School of Music, where the DA degree has been and continues to be the only doctoral-degree option, it continually has attracted a substantial number of students from around the nation and the world, and periodic surveys of alumni find the degree holders satisfied that the DA has served their career goals.4
This article explores one feature of BSU's DA degree, namely its pedagogy class, MuHis 602, Teaching Introduction to Music (or music appreciation for non-majors). The class is relevant to the College Music Society's long-standing interest in Music in General Studies (MGS) and its current emphasis on assisting faculty teaching MGS courses.5 My goal is to offer suggestions, based on my own experiences, to both new and little-experienced MGS teachers and to those who might consider offering a similar graduate pedagogy class.
Pedagogy and Internships at Ball State University
In the BSU School of Music, each doctoral student is required to take either a music-theory pedagogy class or a music-appreciation pedagogy class. Many times the pedagogy class is foundational to an internship at Ball State (or an externship at a nearby college), which was an important feature of the original DA plan put forth by the CGS. Of course, the goal of the internship and externship is to provide the student with practical professional experience under the guidance of a master teacher. In these experiences, some students teach a class independently for all or part of a semester, while others team-teach significant portions of a class along side the master teacher. These components (the pedagogy class, the internship, and the externship) can account for up to 9 hours of the 17 allocated to the College Teaching and Learning portion of the degree.6 Other courses in the CLT area might include psychology of music, cognition and learning theory, or the role of music in higher education.
MuHis 602, Teaching Introduction to Music
Since 1994 I have been the instructor for the music-appreciation pedagogy class, which is offered about every fifth semester. Enrollment is limited to 15 graduate students, with doctoral students getting priority. Teaching the course has been challenging and rewarding; I always learn from my graduate students, and I am continually caused to analyze, refocus, and refine my philosophy, approach, goals, content, and methodology both for the MuHis 602 graduate students and for the students in my own music-appreciation class (MuHis 100 Introduction to Music). In preparing for and designing the graduate class, I try to answer the question: "What information would have been helpful to know before I taught my first music-appreciation class?"(As that was more years ago now than I care to contemplate, I also consider the question: "What are the issues, techniques, materials, etc., that I have incorporated or learned since then—how has the course changed [in general and for me specifically] over time?") I can substantiate the practicality of the pedagogy class by the post-graduation (or preparation for a job interview) contacts I have with alumni of the course—our correspondence and conversations most often are related to recalling experiences and exercises in MuHis 602 or to their own experiences "in the real world" as teachers of music appreciation. It is not unusual for me to get a phone call or an email from a student wanting to be reminded of some aspect of class discussion or asking advice about a particular situation.
This article, an enlargement of a paper I presented at the CMS's MGS Roundtable in San Francisco, introduces the topics we cover and the experiences we offer in the pedagogy class, and it allows me to share some of the observations and decisions I have made about teaching non-majors in the process of "teaching teachers of music appreciation." I hope that it introduces the reader to the graduate course at the same time it offers food for thought about teaching music as part of general studies.7 The topics, requirements, and experiences described below are, in part, dictated by the size of the MuHis 602 class and the limited amount of time available in a three-credit, one-semester course. A "wish list" of topics I might like to include or experiences I might like to offer is included near the end of this article.
The first day of any class is important in establishing the atmosphere and procedure for the rest of the semester. On day one of MuHis 602, I usually teach a mock lesson modeling the basics of what I would do in MuHis 100 on day one. This includes some discussion and questions causing the class to think about how music occurs in everyday situations, presentation of some small "historical" lesson (the history of the "Star Spangled Banner" and the Indiana state song, for example), having the students complete a survey about some of their musical interests and experiences (during which I go around to each student to say "Hi" and check their name on the roster—if class size permits), and introducing some basic, overview terminology.8 After this mock lesson, we have a discussion about what things an instructor might do (or likely should not do) during the first class meeting, and I share my MuHis 100 syllabus and the Master Syllabus (common to all MuHis 100 teachers) with the students. Only near the end of the class do we peruse the actual MuHis 602 syllabus and begin to talk about some of the requirements and procedures outlined therein (I also wait until the end of the MuHis 100 day one to distribute the syllabus—I want to get the students thinking and talking about music before they begin to worry about the number of tests we will have or how many absences are permitted).
The next few class periods in MuHis 602 are devoted to organizational issues (as related to some of the activities described below) and other discussion topics such as classroom management or the role of courses for non-majors in the university setting. One of the issues important in the selection, design, and presentation of these discussion topics is to make clear to each student that they must develop individually—it will not be effective for them to try to imitate someone else's style. While I can speak best of my own evolution as a teacher and from my own perspective and experience,9 in an effort to avoid having the graduate students hear only my voice and my opinions, they are to observe other MuHis 100 instructors or instructors of similar non-major courses in the other arts either on campus or at a nearby college. Without trying to take too much time from these other instructors, one of the observation reports must include a brief interview with the teacher whose classroom they visited about that teacher's goals, philosophy, syllabus, and lesson of the day. Additionally, we arrange a panel of newer MuHis 100 teachers to speak to the class about their first experiences with designing and teaching a class for non-majors.10
The issue of classroom management needs to be discussed early because among the required activities for the graduate students in MuHis 602 is at least one "live" substitute-teaching experience in one of our "real" MuHis 100 classes.11 They are responsible to prepare the material to be taught that day, but it also is important that we begin immediately to think about the interaction between the teacher and a group of students. Some of the graduate students find this experience to be somewhat intimidating, while others find it to be exciting, but almost all of them volunteer to "sub" more than once if the schedule permits. Certainly, being a substitute teacher is not the same as being the person who is responsible for the whole semester, but this opportunity at least allows the graduate students to communicate with "real" music-appreciation students.
To have an administrator (perhaps the department chair or the dean) speak to the graduate students about the role of MuHis 100, or similar courses, in the overall scheme of the department, school, college, or university can be enlightening for everyone. The administrator likely will speak about aspects of the course not directly related to the day-to-day lesson plans or content delivery. Their concerns generally include staffing (tenure track or contract, music history faculty or performance faculty, etc.), the financial implications of class size, and how practical matters might or might not correlate with an ideal philosophy related to the goals of the course. Most music graduate students have never considered the departmental expense tied to the one-on-one teaching that commonly is found in a music department and how this expense might be balanced with other offerings. Likewise, they rarely have contact with non-majors, and therefore, have not thought about related scheduling and staffing issues or even about how a music professor's "load" is calculated.
Topics for Discussion
Among the other topics that we discuss during the course of the semester are: attendance policies (for class and for concerts), active learning and class participation, teaching large sections, deciding "what to leave in and what to leave out," helping the students develop listening skills (and related skills in applying vocabulary to what they are hearing), selecting a textbook, using audio/visual materials and technology, testing and assignments, broadening the repertoire base, handling varied course schedules (i.e., once a week for 150 minutes, three times a week for 50 minutes, everyday for 135 minutes in a five-week summer session), and grading and assessments. I also share with them my experiences in teaching a popular-music course for non-majors and information about how teaching materials for music appreciation (including textbooks) have changed as the possibilities for the curriculum have evolved—in our world, at BSU, and in my own evolution as a teacher. I will comment further on a few of these discussion topics in the process of offering some of my views on the issues.
With regards to grading and testing, I remind the students that they will need to make decisions about the percentages or weight of various tests, assignments, attendance, and other grade-related items in order to prepare their syllabus. However, it is advisable for the teacher to include a bit of flexibility into the scheme to accommodate unforeseen situations. I prefer to use the now old-fashioned letter grading for most items rather than a strict point system because I find it allows the needed leeway (I am satisfied that BSU's on-line Gradebook system accommodates this approach). It appears that some professors enumerate so precisely what each test and assignment might earn in terms of points that, should they decide another or a different homework assignment is needed at some stage of the semester, they are bound to the inflexibility of their original plan.12 I have seen solutions where points are assigned but they are linked to percentages (i.e., exam A will be 100 points but it will be 20% of the final grade; all combined homework will be 15% of the final grade—no matter how many points are allotted to individual assignments). Similarly, I prefer letter grades and percentages so that, if I am satisfied with asking the equivalent of 67 or 82 or 103 points on a test, I do not have to concoct or eliminate questions simply to reach a predetermined, artificial number of points. An "A" is earned for 93% or more correct no matter how many questions constitute the test.
It is my belief that the teacher should have in mind the test questions they might like to ask before teaching each day's lesson (as opposed to thinking "now, what did we cover that day?" after the fact when creating the test). This method makes test creation easier, and it helps focus daily teaching so that the main goals of the lessons (and main test points) clearly are highlighted. I do not think this leads to "teaching the test"—certainly other material and information can and should be brought in to enhance the lesson's points. Along with this discussion, the MuHis 602 students individually create a test based on the material taught in their mock teaching (see below). I encourage a variety of kinds of questions (matching, essay, multiple choice, etc.) unless the class size prohibits it.13 My own experience has taught me to avoid being too fancy with testing. What looks creative and brilliant on a clean test can be a nightmare to grade with 45 papers in front of you. For example, I once (and only once!) asked students to put a list of about eight events into chronological order. It sounded like a reasonable task, but I had not thought about how to handle the grading if they misplaced one or two items, throwing the subsequent answers into the wrong answer blanks even if the other answers were correct relative to one another. (Its complication is confirmed by the difficulty in describing the problem!) The test the MuHis 602 students create must be based on material taught in the mock units of our class (rather than material they imagine they "might" have taught in a similar unit in their own class). This can be challenging for them because they actually have only taught one of the unit's lessons, but the experience nevertheless keeps them focused on material others are teaching and causes them to think about the test's length, style, content, format, and ramifications for grading and assessment. The students submit a grading key to me in addition to their test.
I have used several common textbooks over the years. I prefer a textbook that allows me to "cut and paste" some of the material; in other words, I do not want to have to move in the exact order the material is presented by the author if I so choose. I am also concerned about repertoire selection and listening guides. Variety is good, but the examples for non-majors should match the description that the author presents about the genre or form. The teacher certainly can and should explain that composers do not simply fit melodies and harmonies into prescribed formulas, but devoting a whole textbook section to "concerto form" followed by only one listening example that is contrary to the discussion is confusing for students. Listening guides that are clear and progressively use more detailed, proper terminology are a plus.
Of course, one of the significant challenges for a textbook author writing for a non-major is incorporating enough of the layers and nuances of historical and musical complexities without going beyond the reasonable understanding of the students. My experience has shown that finding a textbook and adding lecture notes that create a contextual balance between "cut and dried," concrete information and more subtle ideas and developments is important. Similarly, textbook authors and editors surely must struggle with making decisions about which topics, persons, and repertoire are to be represented within the text. Even when using a "brief" version of a book, I find I often cannot adequately cover all the material included therein, especially when there are a few topics not covered in the textbook that I wish to include (such as my own experience with music in Bali). This leads to another choice of balance—covering some topics in depth and others less so, teaching fewer topics in greater detail, or tackling more topics but each in a more general way. In my opinion, this choice is difficult, and it contradicts those who think that anyone on the music teaching staff easily can teach non-majors. I suggest to the MuHis 602 students that it often is helpful to "know more" when trying to make wise choices about "selecting less," and the decision must be tied to the overall goals of the course or of the curriculum as described in the college catalog and to the teacher's philosophy regarding the purpose and projected results of an MGS course.
Briefly, the attendance policy I have developed over the years is this: for a three-meetings-per-week class, the students are given three absences "free" before their absences specifically begin to have an impact on their final grade. I do not differentiate between "excused" or "unexcused" absences; the three absences can be for any reason. This approach prevents me from having to serve as judge and jury for the myriad reasons students offer for their absence. Absences beyond three adversely affect a student's class-participation grade, which usually is about 10% of the whole semester grade.14 Included in the syllabus that each graduate student prepares at the end of the pedagogy class (see below), I have seen some rather detailed, and in my opinion, complicated attendance/tardy policies. I caution the students against creating something so detailed that it distracts them from their focus on teaching (who came in late today or who was seen dozing off?) or that is causes them to be inconsistent in being able to treat students equally.
Exercises, Activities, and Projects
Among the activities or projects in which the MuHis 602 students participate are:
- teaching three "mock lessons" to their graduate-student classmates (with written comments about each experience to me afterwards),15
- observing two music-appreciation teachers in their own classes,
- creating a test and two assignments (one of which must involve listening in some manner),
- reviewing two potential textbooks and an audio-visual resource (in the broadest sense of that term),16
- reading and summarizing at least one published article or book chapter on teach- ing non-majors (music or otherwise) and,
- as a culmination to the semester, preparing a syllabus with a detailed class schedule of topics and lessons.17
Obviously there are many requirements for MuHis 602, and the graduate students are kept busy the whole semester. I point out that the pace is similar to what they might experience in their first semester of independently teaching their own class. The hope is that many of the materials they create and experiences they have will ease some of the stress of that initial semester.
The three mock teaching experiences are arranged as follows: everyone begins by teaching an "elements" lesson based on a topic drawn from a hat, the second round of lessons is based on "traditional" or Western classical-music topics (such as fugue or chant or Stravinsky or Impressionism) also drawn from a hat; the third topic is one of the student's choice, and it must focus on some aspect of popular music, non-western music, American music, or another field or topic they think is legitimate or timely or of personal interest to them but that often is covered minimally or not at all in today's music-appreciation textbooks (see below). Each lesson is limited to fifteen to twenty minutes, and one of the greatest challenges for the student is to decide how much to cover in that brief time and how to cover it (these are, of course, the same struggles faced daily in a "real" music-appreciation class). They may consult with me in advance (although I will not give them too many pointers), and they may briefly set up their lesson by telling the class what they might have done before, or do after, this lesson in the imagined context of their own class.18 I write a critique for each student/teacher as do all the other students in the class. I comment both on content and delivery, and I make it clear to the other students writing critiques that they are equally responsible to point out errors in information, if necessary. The MuHis 602 students must be able to multi-task in this scenario—pretending to be MuHis 100 students at the same time they briefly assess their classmates.
Each of the three lessons provides a challenge. The elements lesson can be difficult for students who are so used to using common music vocabulary that they struggle trying to explain it for newcomers to the field. Among the topics developed for the third unit described above have been: music for the Underground Railroad; piano styles in early jazz; conducting and today's renowned conductors; composers of "classical" music in the 21st century—what they compose and how they earn a living; John Williams as a film composer; the carillon (which included a "field trip" down the hall to the BSU practice carillon); Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road project; and jobs for and the business of the professional musician. This is always one of the most interesting parts of the class, and I encourage students to use this time to introduce information that is of personal interest to them. It is good for music-appreciation students to learn a bit about the musical activities of their instructor outside the confines of the classroom.
The MuHis 602 students must videotape at least one of their three mock lessons. They are to review it and compare their thoughts to the critiques they received. I meet with the students individually at the end of the semester to discuss their observations. Additionally, I recently have added time for some students (selected or randomly chosen) to re-teach their lesson immediately at the end of a mock unit. This gives them a chance to consider what they might change or retain, or what they want to emphasize differently, before their thoughts get too far away or on to another task. This also gives the other students in the class a chance to consider the same issues.
Observations, Evolution, and Wish-List Thinking
From my perspective, preparing and teaching this pedagogy class and observing the choices, listening to the comments, and watching the growth of the graduate students cause me to think deeply about what I am doing in the music-appreciation classroom.and why. Many of the graduate students observe me in my MuHis 100 class during the semester at least once, and they often ask me to "model teach" a topic or lesson at the end of their mock teaching units to see how I might choose to approach the subject matter. Likewise, I share my philosophy and experience with them, always clarifying that "this is what works for me—you have to develop your own way." For example, I explain that in my own MuHis 100, I do not give a review sheet or have a review session just before an exam; I think to do so encourages students to wait until the end of the unit to study. Instead we do a few minutes of active review at the beginning of each class period over the material covered during the previous class. In this way, students can create their own study guide in manageable increments, they hear terms and concepts again in short succession, and they are given a sense of continuity between lessons. Continually helping students make links between concepts and content material seems to be useful in boosting their individual understanding and success.
This process also has caused me to think about how I have changed my approach to MuHis 100 over the years (and therefore, MuHis 602 as well). The list of changes I see in myself would include: focusing more on listening and describing music and less on historical "facts;" creating situations where the students can work with each other in talking or writing about music; incorporating more "world music" into the semester's topics; experimenting with and alternating the daily methods of content delivery (especially working toward less lecture and more discussion and student responses); and offering choices that accommodate students' learning style and interests whenever feasible for testing, assignments, and projects.
If I were to make a list of what I have learned from the graduate students taking this class, I would divide it into two headings: things they have reconfirmed for me, and secondly, new ideas or approaches I have garnered.19 With regard to the former, I am constantly reminded of the importance of having specific teaching goals for each lesson right from the start. The "what to leave in/what to leave out" issue becomes more and more difficult as, frankly, music history keeps getting longer and wider; one has to make wise choices. I also am reminded of the importance of being organized in your delivery, both within a lesson and in an overall unit. I think a teacher can be helpful to students by briefly setting up a lesson or a unit in an outline fashion before beginning (either verbally or written). This helps the student see where we are going and where we have been, and it encourages the teacher to make appropriate links more frequently and readily. A larger body of material often can be handled more easily if it is divided or grouped into segments.
Under the heading of new ideas I immediately think of technology. For example, most of the graduate students are more inclined to use power-point presentations than I am. Of course they must be organized well—just like a non-power-point lesson—and allow enough time for the viewer to comprehend what is being shown. One effective use of this methodology was a student's mock library lesson that introduced music resources and the music-listening center. He began with two or three photos as to where the Music Listening Center is located, where the music stacks are found, and where music reference books are shelved. I immediately asked him if I could use some of his materials in my own class to provide a brief pictorial field trip. Additionally I have acquired some interesting examples from them to use in support of certain topics. For instance, one student came across a video of a production of The Rite of Spring with original costumes and choreography. I now use that same example to good effect in my own class. We encourage borrowing and sharing resources and ideas. Likewise, as part of the textbook review described above, students must consider the "peripheral" items that publishers offer such as links to web resources or templates to create a class webpage tied to the textbook.
On the other hand, sometimes I learn things from the students that I do not want to borrow or emulate. For example, one student designed a semester-long project that required the students to write a page-long listening-journal entry for each week of the semester based on their own listening choices. Philosophically and ideally this is a good idea. However, I was compelled to ask how to adequately grade the assignment if the teacher was unfamiliar with some of the pieces and how physically to read through that much material all due, according to the assignment sheet, at the end of the semester (15 weekly entries multiplied by 45 students!). Thinking realistically at the same time you think philosophically or pedagogically is an important lesson to learn. Likewise, the most common flaw that I detect among the students in their mock teaching is trying to cram too much material into the time allotted. A teacher should seek a balance between "so much, so fast that the student is overwhelmed" and "so little or such general information that the topic seems irrelevant."
Earlier I mentioned a "wish list" of things I might like to be able to do in the pedagogy class. As with a music appreciation class, the "what to leave in, what to leave out" element of MuHis 602 is important. I do not spend time discussing topics such as learning theory, primarily because the DA students are required to take core courses in Music Education where topics of this nature are covered. Additionally, as noted earlier, the DA students whose primary or secondary areas are MusEd often will make valuable contributions to our class discussions that skirt these topics. Among the things I wish are these:
- to have time to allow each student to teach one or more of their three mock lessons a second time in order to revise it or to simply have the experience of verbalizing the material a second time in front of a "class."
- to have more detailed discussion and demonstration of technology in the class room, both as a means of delivery and as access to information. Some of our BSU instructors use electronics more or in different ways in the classroom than I do (for example, "buzz in" keypads to respond to class quizzes); I encourage the MuHis 602 students to be sure to observe them as well. In 2007 I added the study of available "on-line" delivered courses to our MuHis 602 discussion list.
It also would be prudent to have a presentation from our Music Listening Center supervisor about opportunities for additional listening opportunities available through streaming and other means and to have a textbook representative (or two) make a presentation to the class regarding their texts and coordinated items now available through their publisher. Having time to learn about the hands-on tools that are available is important, as is having time to discuss the philosophical and practical (and legal) applications of the material or items.
Likewise, it would be useful to have more time to investigate and discuss other means of organization and delivery of the content. I tend to teach in a chronological fashion (I have tried other approaches on occasion, but find the students generally so unaware of general historical development that they tend to lose sight of or get lost in the midst of that important element if, for example, you present the material by genre). This topic is a part of the students' final syllabus-creation exercise and part of their textbook evaluation exercise, and I have seen some very interesting and reasonable ideas in their work.
Teaching this music-appreciation pedagogy class is a joy—and a great responsibility. I want to relieve the graduate students from fearing or loathing such a teaching assignment if that is what their future holds, and I hope they will find ways of mixing traditional, time-tested materials and methodology with newer materials and innovative means of delivery. They seem to sense the potential this kind of class holds for offering the undergraduate enrollees a great experience with music and related to the challenges that are inherent in it. Musicians are used to, and perhaps crave, applause. A music-appreciation teacher likely will not garner too much applause during the semester, but having a student ask you about where to buy a certain CD, or comment on some event they attended, which was not required, or respond in a thoughtful way about a new concept can be just as fulfilling. Recently I had a MuHis 100 student tell me he had just added some Chopin to his iPod because he was so taken with the repertoire we had studied in class. That is a victory—for both of us! Too often those without experience (or an interest) in teaching music in general studies think that just anyone can do it, that it is somehow an assignment to be avoided, or that it is not a priority to have the class taught well. I am pleased that Ball State University's School of Music encourages equal focus on preparing its students to be musicians, scholars, and teachers-teachers interested in and comfortable with both music majors and non-majors.
List of References
College Music Society. Directory of Music Faculties in Colleges and Universities, U. S. and Canada 2005-06. Missoula, Montana: CMS, 2005.
Dressel, Paul L. College Teaching as a Profession: The Doctor of Arts Degree. New York: Carnegie Corporation, 1982.
Koriath, Kirby L. "A Survey of Ball State University's Doctor of Arts Graduates in Music." In the Proceedings of the DA at the Crossroads: A National Conference on the Doctor of Arts Degree Held at Idaho State University, 5-7 October 1989, edited by Barton S. Pulling, 55-60. Pocatello, Idaho: Idaho State University Press, 1989.
Koriath, Kirby L., and Margaret M. Merrion. "Preparing the New Professoriate: The Doctor of Arts Revisited." The Review of Higher Education 16, no. 1 (Fall 1992): 63-83.
National Association of Schools of Music. Handbook 2007-2008. Reston, Virginia: NASM, 2006.
1During Spring 2005 I received a brochure from Columbia University describing its "Cohort Doctoral Program in College Music Pedagogy." The program is "designed to develop specific skills directed towards college music teaching. Participants will be encouraged to focus their doctoral research on issues encountered in their current teaching responsibilities." The degree earned is a Doctor of Education in College Teaching.
2See Paul L. Dressel, College Teaching as a Profession (New York: Carnegie Corporation, 1982). This brief monograph provides a history of the DA degree and compares it to other degree programs. See also Kirby Koriath and Margaret Merrion, "Preparing the New Professoriate: The Doctor of Arts Revisited," The Review of Higher Education 16/1 (Fall 1992): 63-83. The NASM Handbook for 2007-2008 allows for the concept of the DA under its "Degrees with Unique Orientation" heading: "Doctoral programs may be developed that address various combinations of goals and objectives for research and practice in music and in the combination of music with other fields." It also describes a "Doctorate in Pedagogy," which is, in part, applicable to the DA. See pages 127-28.
3College Music Society, Directory of Music Faculties in Colleges and Universities, U. S. and Canada 2005-06. (Missoula, MT: The College Music Society, 2005): 1154-55.
4As one example, see Kirby Koriath, "A Survey of Ball State University's Doctor of Arts Graduates in Music," in Proceedings of the DA at the Crossroads: A National Conference on the Doctor of Arts Degree Held at Idaho State University, 5-7 October 1989, ed. Barton S. Pulling (Pocatello: Idaho State University Press, 1991), 55-60. Recently BSU has begun a "Performer's Diploma" for those students interested in focusing mainly on a performance career, however, the vast majority of its doctoral students continue to be engaged in the DA degree program, which includes research and writing culminating in a dissertation (in addition to multiple recitals for those in performance).
5Readers may wish to refer to the MGS portion of the CMS webpage or, for broader pedagogical discussion, to the CGS webpage at hppt://www.preparing-faculty.org/.
6The BSU School of Music Graduate Handbook lists the following under the DA heading "Curriculum": Area of primary emphasis, 24 hours; Area of secondary emphasis, 15 hours; Supplementary studies in music, 18 hours; College teaching and learning, 17 hours; Dissertation, 10 hours; and Electives, 6 hours. Many students choose to connect their internship or externship to experiences related to their primary or secondary areas of emphasis; other students purposely choose to do one in an area of music that gives them experience outside their areas of emphasis.
7Although my undergraduate degree was in music education, my advanced training is in music history. My comments herein are based on my own experiences—I do not know if my suggestions will be contrary to current music-education thought. BSU has a fine music-education program; my students have not suggested to me that I contradict what they have discussed in other classes.
8I think it is essential that you try to get as many students talking on day one as possible; if the teacher does all the talking on the first day, they likely will be doing all the talking every day! Now, of course, a teacher usually can email a class about which textbook to buy and what material to prepare for the first day. I find that many students, however, still do not come to class the first day with a book. It is a challenge to have something for them to do in which everyone can participate and that does not seem like "busywork."
9At this point in my career, I have taught music appreciation or Introduction to Music for more than 25 years. I have taught classes as small as six and as large as 200, at community college and public university, and in many configurations: three times a week, twice a week, and once a week in a 15-week semester; daily or three nights a week in a five-week summer session; and daily in a 10-week term. At Ball State University, MuHis 100 is part of the Core Curriculum and is one choice among the four Fine Arts classes from which each undergraduate must select one. We generally have about 600 seats available for students each semester in classes with 35 to 75 enrollees.
10During a recent semester, the panel consisted of one of our second-semester music-history graduate teaching assistants, a DA student who had done his internship with me earlier, and a percussion major who was new to the faculty of a western college where a class in music appreciation filled out her load.
11I am dependent on the cooperation of my teaching colleagues to bring this to fruition. Usually we can find enough "sub" times by scheduling when faculty will be away at conferences, etc., but occasionally I have to ask a faculty member to give, perhaps, a half of a class to one of the graduate students. This whole endeavor requires a considerable amount of organization and scheduling, but the experience is thought by most of the graduate students to be one of the most worthwhile requirements of the class. When scheduling the graduate students in as "subs," I also need to consider the students in the MuHis 100 class—I do not want them to feel like a lab class—they have paid tuition expecting a quality learning experience.
12I realize that the syllabus should be quite complete and accurate so the students know how their grades will be calculated. I am not suggesting major changes mid semester—simply a bit of flexibility to accommodate the learning process. I personally have found letter grades to help prevent situations where a student argues strongly about one particular "point" on a test, which often means they have calculated exactly where they are on the points scale and know that one more point might move them to the next higher grade category. Of course, for tests and those assignments that are more "objective," the percentage correct determines the letter grade.
13When I have taught large sections (200 enrollment), I gave tests that were primarily multiple choice. However, I also included what I called "guided essays" for which students had to write four or five sentences about a given topic. This method at least required the students to use some words in the testing process. Providing them with only four or five lines on which to write and having an assistant to grade the multiple-choice items made the grading manageable.
14Generally I find that students with poor attendance do poorly in other areas of the class as well. The reduction of 10% of their final grade as a result of more than three absences usually is not the sole factor in a poor final grade. If a student accumulates more than the equivalent of six absences, they lose the opportunity to earn "extra credit." I learned of this idea from a theatre colleague years ago. His belief was that "extra" or "make-up" work should not be afforded those who did not succeed with the most basic aspect of student life: coming to class.
15For this exercise, the other graduate students in the class are to attempt to emulate non-majors. This does not work perfectly well, but it does cause the graduate students to think about what they likely would not know or about how they might respond to an unfamiliar topic. It can provide the graduate students a valuable avenue towards thinking about how to prepare their own lessons. Having "pretend" students for the mock teaching is one reason why the "live" experience described above is so valuable.
16After I have received and reviewed all of the assignments and audio-visual reviews, I create a list of all of the ideas and discoveries that is distributed to each student. They then can talk with their classmates if they wish to know more. We try to share as many ideas and resources as possible.
17As part of this final-project syllabus, I ask for more detail related to the schedule and topics of lessons that I actually would recommend putting in one's syllabus. In my own class, I make daily announcements about what material MuHis 100 students should prepare for the next few classes, but putting too much detail in the syllabus creates confusion if the teacher gets off schedule. For the graduate syllabus assignment, I want to see the detailed teaching plan that the student has devised—more often than not, I write comments such as "too much material for one class period." Some of their schedule decisions can be made only with some experience, and likely their choices about what topics and how much of a topic to cover will change from semester to semester, but I want to steer them in a reasonable direction immediately.
18We have several new and old sample music-appreciation textbooks available for the students to study and use. Publishers generally are happy to provide these few extra copies because these budding teachers might select their book for use one day.
19I want to thank all the students who have taken MuHis 602 over the years. I have learned much from them, and it is a joy, and somewhat reassuring, to watch them learn the value and potential rewards in teaching this kind of course.
Last modified on Thursday, 30/05/2013
Linda Pohly is Coordinator of Graduate Programs in Music and Professor of Music History at Ball State University. She is a long-time member of CMS having served on the national program committee and the Music in General Studies committee. She also has participated in Community Engagement activities associated with national conferences. Linda teaches Introduction to Music for non-majors, Music-appreciation pedagogy, Bibliography and Research, Music of the 20th century, and American Music among other courses. Her research interests focus primarily on American music of the late 19th and 20th centuries.