Internationalizing Music Appreciation

Internationalizing Music Appreciation

Marc Gilley (Georgia Gwinnett College, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2791-6.ch006
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The process of internationalizing a music appreciation class is discussed. The role of music appreciation in an internationalized curriculum is examined and a philosophy of music education is developed. Curriculum design, assessment practices, and teaching and learning activities are viewed through the framework of Fink's Taxonomy of Learning, including descriptions of specific practices and assignments and their relationship to the taxonomy of learning the philosophy of music education. Special consideration is given to the power of music, the arts, and aesthetic experiences to cultivate knowledge of the self and of the other.
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Georgia Gwinnett College was founded in 2006. The first Music Appreciation section, taught by the author, was offered in January of 2008. A committee of Film and Anthropology professors initially developed this class, and over the course of the next several semesters the author more fully developed the course. The committee proposed the course, wrote the course description, chose a textbook, and created the syllabus. It is important to note that from its inception, Music Appreciation as taught at Georgia Gwinnett College was never conceived as a history of Classical Music as it is often taught. Instead it reflected an intentional multi-cultural mindset present at Georgia Gwinnett College from its inception. For several years this was the only music class offered Georgia Gwinnett college. It was purposefully designed to allow students in Student Success programs take the class while bringing their Math and English skills up to a college level. In this way the course diverged from prevalent norms. This deviation allowed for, and even inspired, experimentation and development from the beginning. The environment in which this class was created and in which it is taught naturally led the author to several realizations. That General Education classes such as Music Appreciation in fact have the single largest impact on the student body, regardless of the size or quality of a music program. That in many cases this class might be the last formal instruction in the arts that a college student might encounter. And finally, that these classes have the power to be transformational for students and that they should be transformational classes.

When Georgia Gwinnett College began its Quality Enhancement Program based on internationalized education the course had already incorporated elements of world music at its core through use of Bonnie C. Wade’s Thinking Musically (2013). This text takes an elements based approach and uses the musical elements as a lens to view the musical practices of cultures from around the world. Additionally the author is a practicing musician who performs regularly in a variety of musical styles and approaches the class with the understanding that cultural practice and understanding are best developed through experiential and active learning techniques. The course already had many hallmarks of an internationalized course- 85-90% of the music discussed was of international origin, the instructor made us of sitars, mbiras, kudu horns, antiphonal flutes, and ewe drums regularly in class and had students interacting with and performing on those instruments. It was very easy to conceive of this class as already “internationalized.” As the author developed the fully internationalized course it became apparent that while the content of the course was of an international nature, course design and pedagogy could be refined to a much higher standard.

Georgia Gwinnett College has one of the most diverse student populations in the south (Georgia Gwinnett College, 2015), which is reflected in the student population taking Music Appreciation. Furthermore, as GGC is an open enrollment institution, Music Appreciation is open for registration by students who have not met college level English and Math requirements, leading to a wide variety of experiences and scholastic abilities in each iteration of the class. From the very beginning the author endeavored to reach a wide variety of students in a meaningful way, to maintain academic standards yet allow students of differing abilities to engage with the material in a way accessible to all, and most importantly to impact their education with the most positive experience possible. The author felt that as taught the class could provide the resources to create a transformative experience, but that as often as not fell short of that goal.

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