A few years ago, based on increasing student interest, I was asked to create my college’s first course in Black American music history. I use a variety of media in my teaching, from primary sources to film to comics to picture books. It is this last format that provided the inspiration for my students’ capstone project in the Spring 2022 semester.
Many music history teachers quickly gained facility in the new teaching formats and modes during the pandemic, but change has not stopped. A “new normal,” which can involve face-to-face and hybrid class settings, as well as temporary periods with remote delivery, both invites and requires new and more flexible pedagogical approaches.
Many of us college music professors have struggled to create writing assignments that meet our pedagogical goals and engage students. As music teachers, we need to create equitable assignments that meet our students where they are, help them gain the skills that will be necessary for their success, and meet our course general objectives for thinking and writing about music. In this post, I discuss the rhetorical analysis assignment I use in my music appreciation sections and how I scaffold the informal low-stakes writing and research skills necessary for students to be successful.