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Turning a theory fundamentals course into gen ed.

Hello colleagues,

I'm about to revise our theory fundamentals syllabus as part of a proposal to add this course into our general education curriculum. The course is already being taught to mostly non-majors, so I'm hoping that being part of the CUNY gen ed. will allow even more students to take the course.

My question to you: have you had experience with teaching a music theory for non-majors course as a general education class, with course outcomes that are also aligned with critical thinking skills?

I am trying to satisfy two outcomes: 1) that students can demonstrate their knowledge of major scales, minor scales, key signatures, intervals, and triads (all lower level recall / knowledge skills on Bloom's taxonomy); and 2) that students also are able to interpret and assess a variety of sources, evaluate evidence, and produce well-reasoned arguments supported by evidence.

I've been teaching this class in a way that really only satisfies the first goal. In my thinking about how to revise the course, I'm wondering if anyone has had experience with such a conversion, and what kinds of assignments / projects might successfully bring the nuts-and-bolts, more abstract theory concepts (esp. for non-musicians) together with the kinds of critical thinking outcomes that form a part of a balanced gen. ed curriculum?

Final idea: I think there might be something to the idea of using recent copyright infringement cases (e.g. Blurred Lines and Marvin Gaye), scaffolding the skills needed to both present music theory concept to peers (i.e. a jury) but to also analyze the merits of a particular copyright argument, supported by evidence.

Perhaps this is also a relevant topic in public music theory?

All ideas and input are appreciated. Thanks!





George

(York College CUNY)

 

p.s. For your reference, here at CUNY, the gen ed. courses in the "creative expressions" category need to satisfy the following common outcomes:

•    Gather, interpret, and assess information from a variety of sources and points of view.

•    Evaluate evidence and arguments critically or analytically.

•    Produce well-reasoned written or oral arguments using evidence to support conclusions.

 

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