Interesting class: History of rock music
Oakland University has adapted to students’ needs, expanding intellectual horizons to offer nontraditional courses that stretch beyond core subjects and allow students to explore other areas of interest. OU News Bureau reporter Andrew Craig caught up with Professor Ron DeRoo to learn about a class called Cultural Foundations and Historical Development of Rock Music. (MUS 200).
It covers the roots of the music. The class generally starts looking at music from right around 1950. Ideally, we would work all the way through to the present, but the classes never get that far. It could easily be a two-part class, because most semesters we only get to the ’80s and run out of time. But we cover everything from the history of the music to the equipment musicians use, all from the inside out.
How popular is it?
It’s a full boat every fall and winter semester. We can take 80 students in the class, and we’re always at that capacity. Usually, we can let in a few more, too. It has also been offered online and in the summer semester.
Why does OU offer it?
There’s not another course like it here. I used to teach a history of rock class at Waterford Mott High School. The OU Music Department came to check in on a student teacher at the high school, while I was teaching the class. The department head asked me if I was willing to do it at the college level. I said why not. That was in 1999, and we’re still offering it.
How do you teach it?
I teach from the perspective of a performing musician. I’ve got 50 years of playing experience, so I see things from the view of a practitioner. I studied keyboard and jazz studies in college and then got my masters in classical piano. I’ve been playing with professional groups since the tenth grade. I’m always playing, too. I think that’s all part of how I approach teaching the class. My experiences definitely have affected how I teach.
Give an example:
I’ve been involved with music for a long time. The different time periods of different music also have ties with social issues though. A lot of the students don’t realize that. In the ’60s, for example, things got really crazy for a while. I lived during different stages of music — I’ve see a lot of the social issues that were going on, and you can hear some of them in the music.
How hard is it?
It’s hard to measure how difficult it is, but it’s definitely a course that you have to get interested in to do well. Students should take notes during lectures, read the textbook and know the material. The quizzes, for example, have listening portions where students have to identify musical styles. That’s not easy to do if you haven’t done your homework.
What do students gain from it?
It can help students become musically rounded. As a young adult, I think that’s important. You don’t want to be interviewed by a company CEO and only know punk rock if he brings up jazz music. It’s useful to know the roots of music, too, because it promotes intelligent discussion of trends in music, both current and past. Students who get the most out of the class learn to listen to all types of music on a higher level. They have a better set of criteria to evaluate music, so they can start to understand and appreciate it.
What’s the best lecture?
I like most of them, to be honest, but the psychedelic era is one of the most interesting. Especially because of the social issues going on at the time, things were difficult. With the Vietnam protests and the war, there is so much history to the music of that time. A lot of it emanated right out of college campuses, so it was a very important time for young adults.
Who takes this class?
I’ve seen all different types of students. Music majors to engineering majors, nurses to athletes – there’s a really diverse group of students that take the rock class. I think it breaks the routine for students who have classes that require hard core studying, like their high-level major courses. Students in my class still need to study, but it’s a different kind of involvement.
How often is it offered?
Year round. I teach it every fall and winter semester, but I’ve taught in the summer as well. It’s also available to take as an online course through the university.
How long have we offered it?
Since 1999 it’s been offered every fall and winter, so 13 years now. It keeps filling up, so I don’t see a reason it shouldn’t be offered. It’s always full.
Freshman Aaron Faw took the rock music class. Here’s what he had to say:
What do you think of the class?
It’s a fun class. You do take a lot of notes, but it’s an easy, sociable environment to learn in. The class is interactive, too, so you can understand the material better if you get involved.
We’ve covered a bunch so far. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about music and the history behind it. As we learn about individual styles and bands, Professor DeRoo breaks down the information for us. We listen to everything we learn about, so students really get a well-rounded look at the roots and meanings of rock music.
Why should a student take it?
It can count toward a degree in multiple ways (core class, general education credits, U.S. diversity requirement), depending on your major. Professor DeRoo makes the class entertaining, so you can still have fun while you’re learning. It’s pretty cool to see how famous bands like the Rolling Stones got started and what was going on in the world when they got big. It’s unlike other classes I’ve had here (at Oakland University). I’ve encouraged some of my friends to take it already. It’s a great course.Tweet
Short URL: http://www.ounewsbureau.com/?p=308