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Thinking Musically as the primary text in a course

Here I offer suggestions for using Thinking Musically as the primary text in a course. It works for me, and it might for you. To deepen your own knowledge of what you will teach with Thinking Musically as the textbook, please consult the case study volumes in the Global Music Series.

For every course we teach, we have one or more goals, of course, and one’s goal(s) determines the mode of teaching. My goal in teaching generally is this: take students from where they are to somewhere different. My primary teaching method is to balance what any assigned material and work will give to the students with what the students might bring to the class. I work with that goal and that method, whether the class is small or large, introductory or advanced.

The goal of this particular course was to achieve just what Thinking Musically was conceived to do—to get students to think about music (any music, many musics) in ways they had not been likely to think about music previously. For example, if they had never listened to music analytically, I wanted them to do that. If they had listened analytically to some music but only a limited selection, then I wanted to get them to expand their analytical listening to different musics. If they had a basic knowledge of some musical practice that is included in Thinking Musically—be it tonal popular music, Western classical music, Indian music, Mexican-American music, etc.—I wanted to guide them in deepening that knowledge. If they had experienced music only orally, I wanted them to think about musical notation; if they had experienced music primarily from notation, I hoped to get them to trust their ears. If they had experienced only one type of musical notation, I wanted them to think about other types, and what any music notation does and doesn’t offer. 

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