At Tuned In, we don’t just teach canned classes over and over. As musician-educators, we are committed to creating courses to meet the needs of our students and community, always learning, always growing, and always stretching.
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 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 it 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. The course begins with a framework set forth in The Tuned In Musician.
Students learn to appreciate music as a work of art that is intended for far more than just entertainment, but to serve and love others and the 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). Students learn to address and analysis is given to style/form, intellectual content, validity, and creativity in each genre, as well as the historical significance.
Students learn 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.