Teaching

In the classroom, I lead students to think critically about music’s place in culture, and the intersections between musical thought, performance, technologies, and ideologies. I am committed to fostering students’ expertise and original scholarship through student-led seminars and self-directed research, always with a strong commitment to fostering an inclusive learning environment that values the diversity of students’ and authors’ identities.

My courses place a high emphasis on writing as process and craft, and involve intermediate peer and instructor feedback in the service of extensive revision. My courses emphasize frequent low-stakes assignments that enable intentional practice and build student confidence before larger projects and papers. I viewed my “Sound in Sacred Spaces” course, a freshman writing seminar, as an opportunity to prepare first-years for collegiate work, introducing students to baseline skills of critical thinking, sound argumentation, and productive collaboration. This meant I made sure to include close study of academic abstracts, the thesis statement, introductions and conclusions, the convincing body paragraph supported by well-chosen and well-organized evidence and analysis. We talked extensively of conventions within the field of musicological writing, and I took special effort to make sure that students understood the importance of such expectations within academic disciplines in general and within textual genres. Sample assignments and their rubrics from “Sound in Sacred Spaces” can be found here. The ability to think critically about music, to analyze primary sources and secondary literature, and to write a compelling argument not only deepen students’ engagement with and understanding of music, but are skills that will benefit them in many other fields they may choose to pursue.

My preferred mode of teaching centers on student-led discussions and activities, allowing students to invest in their own skill-building and knowledge acquisition. I have been most successful at empowering students to interact with each other rather than with me when I ask them to consider discussion questions individually or in small groups before coming back together as a class. I often ask my students to first spend a few minutes writing on their own or engaged in dialogue with one to four other students. This helps them identify and organize their thoughts and also gives them the confidence they need to speak up in the more intimidating setting of the full class discussion. Effective teaching requires bringing student interests into dialogue with the professor’s expertise. In that way, instructors can pique students’ curiosity and provide a structure for further study in the topics students have already identified for themselves as particular interests or commitments.

In “Sound in Sacred Spaces,” the students themselves crafted a question that proved to be a central narrative of the course: “How do music and culture influence each other?” Following one early conversation on this topic, they asked me to show them an example of music influencing culture (rather than the other way around). In the next class, I provided an opportunity for them to investigate this question, bringing several video recordings of protest chants I had taken at a local political protest. I asked them to collaboratively describe the videos—what did they see? what did they hear?—and then posed several open-ended questions concerning the nature of these chants and the actions and intentions of the people creating them (see my lesson plan). Unless intervention or additional details were immediately needed, I stayed out of the subsequent discussion, which was among the most animated and thoughtful of the entire course.

As instructor of record and as a TA, my experiences leading discussion groups, mentoring students, and working with them on final projects, all with the goal of getting students excited about the interactions between music and culture, cemented my commitment to teaching undergraduates and especially non-music majors. In evaluations, students have praised my organization and feedback, and observers have commented on my courses’ intellectual rigor, accessibility, and dynamic discussions. For examples of what peers, teaching mentors, and students have said about my teaching, see my Evaluations page.

I am eager to teach music history and music appreciation courses, and because my pedagogy is so heavily concentrated in writing skills and my research in archival work, I am particularly well-prepared for courses on writing about music, bibliography, and archival research. I am especially interested in teaching exciting, accessible courses for non-music majors, bringing increased non-major presence in a music department via courses like “Sound in Sacred Spaces,” “Music in Fantasy Fiction,” “Sex and Gender in Tudor Music,” “Early Music in Contemporary Culture,” and “Theology on Broadway.” In these courses, I find great value in helping students think critically and contextually about what they hear, balancing discussion of musical developments with consideration of the social, religious, and political contexts that shaped them. Such courses will bring non-majors into contact with musicological topics while addressing questions and concerns highly relevant to their other studies, their hobbies, and their lives. I also hope to teach music history courses aimed at performers, such as “Women in Music” and “Technologies of Sheet Music,” a practical history of music printing culminating in study of the contemporary trend of performers playing directly from iPads. You can see from these suggested courses that my pedagogy is committed to finding the connections between my work on Tudor music printing and contemporary culture, and the interdisciplinary nature of my research interests means that many of my courses could be cross-listed with departments of English, History, and Religion. To read more about my teaching experience, future teaching goals, and my Certificate in College Teaching and other pedagogical training, see my Teaching Experience and Goals page.

I strive to create an inclusive classroom environment and to create opportunities for under-represented groups to succeed. I check in frequently with all of my students regarding their expectations, needs, and concerns, and insist at all times upon courtesy and respect, asking the class to consciously work to create a safe, supportive, friendly, and collaborative environment that encourages disadvantaged and minority students to have an increased presence. I think carefully about identities: mine, my students’, and the identities of the people whose writings they study. Students who are not white males deserve to hear voices that sound like theirs in the classrooms, because these academic classrooms themselves legitimate and inculcate cultural ideas. My white male students themselves need to read and converse with traditionally marginalized groups, so that everybody gains a richer understanding of the subject matter and history being taught. I teach my music history courses with as much preference for composers who are women and people of color as possible. When designing my syllabus for “Sound in Sacred Spaces,” I chose readings on black gospel traditions, Buddhist meditation, and the voices of Muslim women, in addition to the more prevalent scholarship on white Protestant institutions. From the very first day of class, I emphasized the need for understanding the subjectivity of the researcher, and my students quickly came to emphasize this hermeneutic in discussions and in their own projects.

I hope that after taking my courses, students have improved their knowledge and skills in writing and analysis. But more importantly, I want them to recognize that music is not merely entertainment but shapes and is shaped by culture and identity, and to have the confidence to bring their own authentic voices and experiences into the fields in which they work and study.