Chances are you registered for Music 10100 because it fit in your schedule and you like music. Maybe you thought this would be an easy class. What you may not have realized is that there are no easy subjects. You obviously wanted to learn more about music but really had no idea what you were getting yourself into.
The college has hired me to introduce you to the principles and concepts of a subject that has its own history and technology going back hundreds of years. Now is a really good time to ask yourself what you wanted to know about music when you signed up for this adventure. I can assure you that every time I prepare for this course, which I first taught in 1964, I ask myself what is it that I really want my students to get from these fifteen weeks together. Each time I ask that question I get a different set of answers, so this semester you will benefit from my most recent introspection.
My intention is to help you become curious critical thinkers. I also hope to excite you about music and its relationship to all the areas of human invention and investigation. It is the interrelatedness of all things and all people that fascinates me. In the brief time we have together I hope we can learn a thing or two about each other, and about the vast universe we inhabit. Your college education may appear to be segmented into separate subject areas in separate buildings, but it is the wise student who realizes that this is all one campus and the search for truth and beauty goes on in every classroom, studio, and laboratory.
There are so many ways to teach about music and each of them has value. No matter which path I choose, I know one thing – I cannot teach you anything. All I can do is invite you to learn. You and I have a good shot at success if the course designed by me has merit and you are willing to do a lot of hard work and investigation on your own. Learning takes place when you integrate what I share with you in class with what you discover for yourself.
I am your intellectual caterer. I will prepare a buffet of fascinating materials and challenges for you and invite you to partake in the feast. You need to grab a plate, come up to the buffet, and partake of what I offer. Fill your plate and return to your seat and enjoy the victuals. Look at what is on your plate, assess it, smell it, taste it, chew on it, and swallow. All this is, hopefully, a pleasurable activity. Of course, you also have the option of fasting. The choice is yours.
I have compiled this textbook for your delight and edification. Read it as if you had paid a king’s ransom for it. It is advisable to take notes on items that seem important enough to show up on the next test. In the best of all possible worlds you would be inspired by what you have read to come to class and engage me in conversation about things that intrigued you. Make sure you stay ahead of the reading schedule in your syllabus. There may be items you want to read a second time to solidify your knowledge. You are responsible for the contents of this volume.
You will be tested on your reading comprehension and your ability to properly process subjects covered in class. You are a professional student and will earn the grade that I record for you at the end of the semester. We are partners in this endeavor. The study of music can help us better appreciate what it means to be human. It can even help us learn more about ourselves, a process of self-discovery that takes a lifetime. Let’s fill it with good music and the joy of learning. There are vast numbers of gorgeous soundscapes waiting for you to discover them. This class will, hopefully, point you in the right direction and provide you with a proper foundation for further discovery.
The hardest part of this class is getting your head out of your cell phone, following directions, and meeting deadlines.
Addendum: As you go through life you are either connecting or disconnecting from people you know. Occasionally a rift develops between me and one of my students, especially when information needs to travel between us. I have had students who were in trouble and, when I wrote to them, they never responded. I had one student who still owed me two papers after the final exam and so I wrote to her asking for her plan. Three days later, at 1:15 in the morning, the papers arrived in my email but the grades had already been posted at 8PM. If she had written to me in a timely fashion, I could have waited, but there was a major disconnect between us. Hopefully, a byproduct of your years at CCNY will be your ability to communicate efficiently and effectively, both verbally and in writing.
Get connected! Stay connected!