Teaching

Medieval and Renaissance timeline (whiteboard)I am currently a Lecturer in Musicology at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, teaching the core curriculum in music history at undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as research and writing skills. While a graduate student at Duke University, I designed and taught an undergraduate seminar for non-music majors (“Sound in Sacred Spaces,” one of Duke’s required freshman writing seminars), directed Duke’s Collegium Musicum (early music choir), completed a Certificate in College Teaching, and gained experience as a TA for the music history sequence and for several undergraduate seminars in musicology and ethnomusicology. Additionally, as a faculty affiliate at Saint Louis University, I serve as an occasional guest lecturer on writing and theology and arts topics for courses within the Department of Theological Studies. My teaching has tended to focus on skills in writing and revision, and I am particularly equipped to teach courses in early music since my research (and my performance career as a professional singer) specializes in sixteenth-century England.

In the classroom, I lead students to think critically about music’s place in culture, and the intersections between musical thought, performance, technologies, and ideology. I am committed to fostering students’ expertise and original scholarship through student-led seminars and self-directed research, and to creating 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, and my pedagogy emphasizes performance: musical performance by students in addition to listening, and practice performing the scholarly crafts of research, thinking, analyzing, and writing. In evaluations, students have praised my organization and feedback, and observers have commented on my courses’ intellectual rigor, accessibility, and dynamic discussions.

My preferred mode of teaching centers on student-led discussions and activities, allowing students to invest in their own skill-building and knowledge acquisition. At Duke, the professors with whom I worked as a teaching assistant and the peers and supervisors who evaluated my teaching as instructor of record of “Sound in Sacred Spaces” consistently highlighted my interactions with students, particularly my ability to lead students in discussion. Similarly, in my courses at SIUE and as a guest lecturer at SLU, I ask students to discuss readings, the course’s central ideas, and each other’s writing in groups of deliberately varying sizes. 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.

Thirdly, I place heavy emphasis on performance in the literal sense, attempting to equip music students with the writing and analytical tools necessary for their college education and, for performance majors, with the music historical training that will be most useful for their performing careers. Recently in the first class of the Graduate Music History Review at SIUE, after extensive discussion of the ritual underpinnings and musical features of Gregorian chant, I led the class in singing a service of Latin Vespers in plainchant, giving them experience in the text-focused and repetitive nature of psalmody. I also consider the crafts of writing and analysis to be performance. My courses include metacritical and self-reflective discussion of the writing process, in-class workshopping, and peer and instructor feedback in the service of extensive revision, offering students purposeful opportunities to master academic argumentation.

Finally, 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. In SIUE’s single-semester “Graduate Music History Review,” I was somewhat more limited by the necessary pace of the class and by the textbooks (which were chosen for me), but we still frequently discussed the classical canon and the reasons why certain composers and compositions have survived to today (while others haven’t).

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.

I would be happy to share copies of my syllabi and student evaluations upon request.