Simplifying Graduate Teaching with OnMusic Appreciation

Arielle Cady PhotoArielle Cady Flores teaches elementary music education in Minnesota at the Cyprus School of Music and Art. She received undergraduate and masters degrees in violin performance from Andrews University. She began using OnMusic Appreciation during her second year of teaching Music Appreciation at Andrews, where she taught a hybrid class of approximately 50 students.

C4E: What is your background?

ACF: I studied violin performance in undergrad and graduate school, and originally, I wanted to be an orchestra player. But while in graduate school, I received a graduate assistantship in musicology. This sparked my interest in the subject, and I am currently waiting to hear back from PhD programs.

C4E: When did you start using C4E webtexts for your courses? What made you choose OnMusic Appreciation?

ACF: My first year, I taught a traditional lecture style class, and used a traditional textbook. But in my second year, my supervisor wanted to experiment with an online text, and I was the guinea pig! With the OnMusic Appreciation webtext, we moved towards a more hybrid style class. We only met once per week, and a lot of the time the classes were more oriented towards conversation than lecture. My students would get together in groups, and then would make “off-the-cuff” presentations about what they had learned during their own research. I would lead the class towards an end point.

C4E: How did you integrate assignments and reading from OnMusic Appreciation for your class?

ACF: I stuck with the basic outline that the online course had. Sometimes I would add or take away readings here or there, and I had other projects that I would assign. They had papers, and one time, they went to a concert performance. After the concert, they had to put together a video where they interviewed the conductor and the soloists.

It’s helpful that the listening guides notate where the musical forms occur, and that students can see this as they’re listening.

C4E: How would you integrate aspects of the online course into your class presentations?

ACF: Depending on the days that I taught, I would take topics from the course, and expand on things which I thought might be interesting to the students. During the conducting section and the instrumental section, I invited guest speakers.

C4E: How does OnMusic Appreciation help with course management?

ACF: I found it helpful for generating teaching outlines and lectures. You can really see what the students are working on. There’s no forgetting a single unit, since it’s all on the website.

C4E: What did you think of the features of the course, such as the listening guides?

ACF: Say we had one specific lecture on a certain piece, we would use the listening guides to discuss form. Sometimes students don’t really understand the correlation between the form of a piece and the different musical motifs. It can be hard for them to listen to something, and then visualize in their minds what it looks like. It’s helpful that the listening guides notate where the musical forms occur, and that students can see this as they’re listening.

There was so much information that the students could delve into beyond the actual reading.

C4E: Did you use the tests, assignments or the learning tools within the course?

ACF:  I did. With the tests, initially they were really hard for the students, and it was hard for me to prepare them for the tests because there’s so much content! However, after the first test, I consulted with C4E for help with creating study questions. I looked through all of the test questions available from the automated test question bank, and then created a review for them. That worked much better.

With the assignments, we used most of them; but some only for extra credit. The learning tools were good preparation for the test.

C4E: What did you like best about the materials?

ACF: There was  so much information that the students could delve into beyond the actual reading. I liked that there were maps of the countries that the composers lived in, and lots of links that were really helpful. When you have a textbook, it might suggest things that the students can go and look at online, but how many students will actually go and look at them? It’s really simple for them to click the links. I also found it really helpful that all of the assigned listenings were just there, and that they could hear the music while they were reading. In the previous course, where I used a traditional textbook with a CD, students would forget to listen. That’s the whole point of the course, listening to music!

C4E: What are your favorite aspects of teaching about music, and how do the features of OnMusic Appreciation enhance this?

ACF: When teaching students who don’t have a classical music background, it’s all about creating accessibility. My students come from different backgrounds, and many associate classical music with high-upper crust society. I’ve want to make classical music accessible to everyone no matter their economic background. I also wanted to show how history, music, and art are correlated, and OnMusic Appreciation presents their shared pathways throughout time. The students like that the music is available to them online within the course, and that they don’t need to check out separate cds from the library. For them,  the course is a harmless way of looking at classical music.

When teaching students who don’t have a classical music background, it’s all about creating accessibility.

C4E: Has the use of OnMusic Appreciation impacted your teaching style and how you manage regular courses?

ACF: For my non-hybrid classes, I’ve definitely become more acquainted with internet resources. I integrate more technology. For example, Carnegie Hall has a lot of videos about different instruments, and it’s good for students to hear about instruments from a professional’s point of view.

C4E: Any final thoughts?

AC: It was very interesting for me to teach this class as a Masters student. We usually don’t usually get much teaching time. I feel like I had two years to test out the different teaching styles, both hybrid classes and regular lectures.

Alisa Gross
Content and Social Media Specialist at Connect For Education
Alisa Gross is the editor and webmaster of the College Teaching and Learning Blog. She holds advanced degrees in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute, London, and Johns Hopkins University. Alisa has also worked as a math and writing instructor and tutor to high school students in New York, London, and Philadelphia over the course of eleven years.

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