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Popular Music Classes

I've taught classes both in jazz history and popular music history at several colleges. At one school, Southern Illinois University, I taught two sections of a general studies jazz history class, each one with 80 students. The department regularly filled six sections of this class and paid for a lot of private lessons with the credits generated. The pop music class, which I taught at both SIU and West Texas State, was not for general studies credit, and thus never had multiple sections, but nevertheless helped justify my salary.

Getting these classes offered is simple since there are usually similar umbrella courses in American music which offer a precedent for more specific studies of American music, if these courses do not already exist in your state's university course catalog. Getting them approved for general studies credit is more difficult, and can depend on internal university regulations and politics.

When I taught these classes in the seventies and eighties, there were not many audio-visual materials and I had to buy a lot of records just to teach the class. Now, however, there are several video series readily available on both jazz and rock music history, so that instructional materials are no longer an obstacle.

These classes can be an important part of departmental offerings, and can offset the deficit caused by private lessons. Alternatively, if you have a Music Business degree, you should be able to justify these classes as part of that curriculum, as the "music lit" of music business, giving the classes an enrollment base while general enrollment builds. Still other classes can be offered that will generate instructional credit, such as Acoustics, and one university even incorporated an acoustics course in a minor in music equipment retailing.



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