Faculty Colloquium: Rouslin

Daniel Rouslin, Professor of Music, will be the third presenter in this year’s Faculty Colloquium Series. Rouslin will present on, “Omitting the Basics: The risks of failing to teach music comprehensively”, Friday, Dec. 2nd at 3 p.m. in the Hatfield Room at the Library.

Applied teaching of music in America tends to focus on helping students learn to play or sing, but sorely neglects the language of music itself. As a result, too many students learn to manipulate their instruments in such a way as to produce a series of notes, rather than music. Recently strained budgets have led to the elimination of general music classes in many parts of the United States. As a result, many students embark on instrumental study without having acquired most of the basics of music that used to be covered in the early grades. Therefore it is incumbent upon applied teachers to make sure that their students become literate in the language of music; that they know, for example, that a phrase and its cadence are like a sentence and its ending punctuation, albeit in a uniquely musical way.

This talk suggests ways to address the following: dynamics and tone color, both explicit and implied by the writing; harmony and how it affects phrasing; form and its dramatic implications; the composer and his or her inspiration in writing the music at hand; music history: how performance style changed over the centuries, and how this affects the music at hand; counterpoint: balancing the voices; becoming a team player in any ensemble, no matter how small; and improvisation and its importance. While it might seem daunting to an instructor to implement all of the above, this needn’t be done all at once. Still, as suggested by this talk, the teacher needs to develop a strategy for implementing each of these aspects of music making when appropriate to the literature being undertaken.