Christine Jeanneret

Teaching Unpopular Music

This essay is a reflection on how to better teach an unpopular subject to first-year students in the Music Department at the University of Copenhagen. The challenges facing education in general, but more specifically higher education are manifold today. Politicians and economists dismantle it by focusing on velocity, cost-effectiveness, and numbers rather than quality. The first-year students do not show a big interest for history in general and even show some prejudices against music history. My project addresses the following questions: Can some aspects of music history present transferability and be useful to them in other contexts? What teaching and learning strategies could be more efficient? Teaching is and will always be based on the content and knowledge but the transmission is equally important or even more when the students arrive with a lot of prejudices. The content has to be made relevant for them in very practical ways: how is a music piece from 400 years ago relevant today? Because it explains a lot about aesthetic issues that are still relevant today: for instance the defeated woman in most operas is a narrative that can be easily put in a contemporary context, like the last American election, for instance. How can a student find a job with an education in music? The education in humanities is not a professional school like medical school, but it teaches a fundamental skill for all professions: developing critical thinking and a sense of initiative, independently of the field they will eventually work in. These qualities are highly appreciated in various competitive milieus.