Pedagogical views

Sorry again for not writing. comps, blahblahblah, studying, etc. I think I have a better plan for the next round, so hopefully I’ll get back in a rhythm of updates soon.

Because my first set of exams was on Theory Pedagogy, I’ve been thinking a ton about that. This means reading articles and constantly running into pedagogical issues that I think I want to address, either in the construction or presentation of Functional Analysis. One of the projects led me to think about designing my own ideal core curriculum (but using standard books). In doing this, I discovered that the primary thrust of my teaching philosophy is relevance, and one my favorite ways of achieving this goal is to start big and work small. This is evident in my presentation of multiple topics, whether tonal theory, Schenkerian analysis, or analysis in general. I prefer to start with big, audible features, and work down to details. This means that students can get a basic grasp on a piece immediately, and discover the interesting, intimate details for themselves, as they get drawn into what makes each piece unique.

My basic attack to analyzing any piece of music:
-Where are basic formal structures? Does the beginning return at the end?
-What sort of contrasts exist in outlining the structure?
-Where are cadences (however they may be defined in a given style)? What does this tell us about phrases?
-How do the harmony, function, or other considerations (rhythm, timbre, texture, etc) bring out the phrases?
-What are large melodic structures and how do they fit the harmony? (tonal music or related)
-Does the text interact with the music? How? (texted music)

What does knowing all these things tell me about the piece? About the composer? About how I should perform it? Listen to it?

The myriad of articles that I was reading this morning on Schenker and pedagogy (many of them from before I was born), reminded me that while I call my work Functional Analysis and draw on Riemann, often seen as antithetical to Schenker, what I’m actually aiming to do is present tonal harmony in a way that makes Schenkerian theory and analysis a logical outgrowth of basic theory, and in some respects, makes Schenker easy and second nature.

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