I was recently asked by a local co-op for Home-school students to teach a course on Music Appreciation or Music History. I was really excited about the opportunity for many reasons, but mostly because I really do believe that students need to know and appreciate the rich, beautiful history of American music. Sadly, I was deeply grieved by the lack of much out there on the history and appreciation of America’s own true art form; ragtime, blues, jazz, and even American orchestral and stage music. To be fair, Wynton Marsalis does have an excellent curriculum developed for the Lincoln Center which I have drawn from in developing this program, although it does not cover orchestral and stage, and of course really does not address the essential worldview and values component.
Values and Worldviews
Every art form expresses values and worldviews (whether intentionally or not), and understanding this is an essential and foundational part of understanding and appreciating any art; including music. I intend to share much more on this page as I continue to develop and teach the course. The course does begin with a framework set forth in my forthcoming text The Tuned In Musician, which draws from some of the framework set forth by Francis Schaeffer in his classic text Art and the Bible as a basis for evaluation of art.
Students are learning to appreciate music as a work of art that is intended to both glorify and point to the Creator, as well as to serve and love community through creative and technical artistic excellence, intellectual content, form/function, and validity. The course immerses students in the rich cultural and creative history of what is really one of America’s only indigenous art forms; ragtime, blues, jazz and American orchestral/theatrical music. The course explores key composers and musicians in ragtime, early swing, big band, bop, post-bop, and fusion. Also American orchestral folk (Copland, etc.),and classic American theatrical/Broadway like Gershwin, Porter, etc). Address and analysis is given to style/form, intellectual content, validity, and creativity in each genre, as well as the historical significance.
Students are also learning the essential musical understanding of improvisation, chord structure, and form, and will become familiar musically (on their instrument) with both the blues and rhythm changes.
If you are interested in learning, or have a child/student interested in learning, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.