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Co-Teaching with Non-Theorist Colleagues?

I'd like to start a discussion about team teaching.  With undergraduate music majors pulled in so many directions --- lessons, ensembles, theory, history, methods classes, etc. --- I've noticed that many of them, including those who excel, struggle to form constellations out of all of the stars.  They need continuous, explicit coaching in order to see that what they are learning in my courses is related to (informed by, applicable to, sometimes one and the same as) what they do in their other musical activities.  I'd imagine that many of my colleagues at other institutions face similar challenges.

Over the last few years, I've teamed up with some of my music colleagues outside of theory in order to build more concrete bridges between different curricular islands.  Some are in the form of entirely team-taught courses, such as a
performer and a theorist co-teaching a Performance and Analysis
seminar.  Others are more informal and one-off:  a
theorist visiting an orchestra rehearsal to bring aspects of a piece's
form to life, a cellist coming to a counterpoint course to provide a
performer's perspective on compound melody in Bach's solo suites, or a theorist
and a musicologist bending the usual order of undergraduate topics so
that students simultaneously explore the intricacies of sonata form and
engage with the history of the symphony.

The aim is to model between faculty the integration and curricular cross-pollenation that we'd like students to achieve in their own learning.  It's been just as exciting for us as for our students to get two expert colleagues from different disciplines answering each other's questions, finding common perspectives, and learning from the process of taking each other's musicianship to heart.

I am curious to know what kinds of team-teaching other
theorists are doing and how well it is working.  Aside from my own personal enjoyment of collaborative teaching,
integrative learning is a direction in which institutional winds
are blowing increasingly strongly across higher ed.  My university and
many others have defined integrated learning objectives focused on
broadly applicable skills and thinking strategies as opposed to highly specialized topics.  I'm especially interested in unusual pedagogical
collaborations, such as any between theorists and music education
faculty, theorists and jazz faculty, theorists and musicologists, or
theorists and any faculty outside music. 

I look forward to the conversation!





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Comments

  • 3 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • One (simple) thing I've done is to invite my performance colleages to take part in my theory classes, sometimes by asking them to present on a given topic but more often to have them take part in a round-table discussion about analysis and performance (usually related to a specific piece or set of pieces). For example, when I was teaching a Lied anaysis class for juniors, I asked one of my colleagues in the voice department to talk with us about what, for her, constitues a deeply musical performance, and what kind of work goes into creating one. Together, we chose one song, and she recommended several different recordings. The students had already analyzed the piece, so we came up with a set of questions to get them thinking about the art of interpretation. It was a real hit--and we've continued to collaborate since then.

    More recently, I asked a poetry scholar to visit one of my classes and talk about poetic rhythm and meter--which was also really illuminating. All it required was screwing up courage and sending an email (which is sometimes harder to do than it would seem!).

  • I have found team teaching to be very rewarding. For several years a taught a seminar together with faculty from the Art and Theatre departments. It was always very stimulating and received well by the students. The economics of funding collaborative teaching can be a challenge, when staffing for traditional courses is already under pressure. I would be interested to know if colleagues have found viable ways to support such collaborations.
  • I second the idea of collaborating with those outside music. I had a wonderful cross-collaboration with an English professor in Charleston. He created some written resources for my students to guide their poetry analysis, and I brought my guitar to his class and guided his students through setting a poem to music. Both groups of students benefitted greatly from the cross collaboration.