Over the last few years I’ve had the pleasure of teaching several classes in music theory and rock history, but I’ll be preparing in a few months for an entirely new teaching experience: I’ll be running a course on American experimental music between 1910 and 1945 for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Minnesota, a continuing education program with a “focus on active learning in dynamic and respectful environments.” I’m extremely psyched about this for two reasons: First, as much as I appreciate my thoughtful and hardworking undergrads, I’m excited to work with a different student population; second, as a teaching assistant I’d never get the chance to lead my own seminar on such a specific corner of the literature.
I’m sure I’m not the only grad student in the latter boat. We toil to acquire an advanced knowledge of music—more advanced in some areas than others, naturally—but we may not often get the chance to teach to our specific interests. In this case, I’m also looking at the course as an opportunity to reacquaint myself with a rep that I admire very much but haven’t had a lot of recent contact with. I’m planning to go heavy on Ives, Cowell, and Ruth Crawford Seeger, all composers whose catalogs I’m relatively familiar with but am eager to dive further into. It’s expected that the course will have some reading and listening assignments but no tests, papers, or other evaluations; I imagine that a little lecture and a lot of discussion will make up the bulk of each class.
Now that you know the basics, I’d like to source the crowd: What would you do if you were asked to teach a short continuing-ed course on American experimental music before 1945? (Remember that these students are probably coming to the material with very little preparation; I also want to establish some general historical context early on.) I can’t wait to hear what you all come up with.