Sunday, August 19, 2012

New year + really teaching

UF is starting its fall semester this Wednesday. Odd to start on a Wednesday, but I suppose it balances out the 2-day week at Thanksgiving (aka T-give). Anyway, I've had quite a busy summer and am ready to get back into school mode.

This year I'm finally, fully in charge of a class. I did teach an online class last summer, taught theory labs and co-taught the freshman technology class last school year, but this year I am teaching Intro to Music Technology on my own, and I'm very excited for it.

I've spent quite a bit of time planning it, and you can see my syllabus, etc. here. This class is required of all undergrad music majors, and from what I can tell is a fairly common course in most schools. Every teacher emphasizes different things, and I guess what I'm emphasizing is 'everything.'

Syllabi I have read (just from rudimentary Google searches) tend to spend a lot of time on notation programs and MIDI sequencing. I am doing both, but not spending tons of time on either. I am also basing my grades on student projects, so if a student gets really into MIDI sequencing, good for them! But I feel it's more important to throw out more concepts and tools.

I am also using this as an opportunity to fill what I perceive are some gaps in the undergraduate curriculum. Specifically, I am hoping to guide my students to some understanding of entrepreneurship and self-promotion in our field, as well as a general sense of media culture/theory. I want them to be able to drum up gigs, but more importantly, be able to advocate for our artform.

I am going to be teaching out of Douglas Rushkoff's great little book Program or Be Programmed. It's short and touches on a lot of media theory; not much depth, but it will be a good catalyst for discussion, I'm sure.

We're also going to listen to a fair amount of music, mainly rock but also some electroacoustic, in order to gain an understanding of different effects and production techniques. I'm also hopeful that this kind of listening will train these young ears to listen to compositions in multiple dimensions (not just for melody and harmony) in order to achieve better balance when playing in ensembles, better sense of stylistic differentiation, etc. etc. etc.

It may be a totally crazy plan, but I think it will be fun and interesting!