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Probably Not What They Were Aiming For

All this coverage of Michael Jackson's death got me thinking. I should design a course (for when I have a Ph.D and a teaching job) about dance in popular culture. You could include stuff on mass media, Nijinsky, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Busby Berkeley, Elvis Presley, Broadway musicals, American Bandstand, teenage dance crazes, Michael Jackson, the image of the dancing male body, break dancing, dance marathons, Wheaton College, all sorts of things.

ETA: Oooo, and bhangra, too! Jazzercise, folkloric dance troupes, drag . . .

The ETA Strikes Back: meggins suggests adding So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars to the curriculum.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 27th, 2009 05:14 pm (UTC)
When you become a prof, I want to take a class or two that you are teaching!

Say, here's a question for you... Someone asked if dh and I would lead a workshop on Sacred Harp at a dance weekend that we will be attending in the fall. It seems kind of intimidating to me. There will be a few people (like two or three maybe) who have sung Sacred Harp and there will be another few in the mix who can read music (which always seems like more of an impediment than help from my perspective) and then the rest will be people who just like to sing.

We had an impromptu sing in the dining hall last year and we got maybe 6 people who came up and seemed interested.

I just suggested that doing a Round sing would be more fun (and maybe easier), but dh is bringing up all sorts of complications with that.

What do you think? You actually teach music to people:)
Jun. 27th, 2009 08:34 pm (UTC)
If I were asked, I would lead a workshop there. I don't know how comfortable you and dh are with teaching, though.

Here's what I would do: First, make sure you can speak for a bit on the history of Sacred Harp. For a workshop, probably no more than five or ten minutes, so distill it down to the highlights.

Encourage people who have them to bring books, but make packets. I would include page 18 as the first page, since that's the page in the Rudiments that has the scales. Then include maybe eight or ten other pages. The tunes you pick should be ones that (between you and dh) you can sing all the parts to, that aren't too complex (no Rose of Sharon, for instance), and that give a good mix of major and minor, plain and fuging tunes. I like to use 33b, 45t, 107, 128, 155, 159, stuff like that, but you can pick your favorites.

Say you have an hour to do this. Give your five- to-ten-minute spiel on the history of the tradition, then lead the class up and down the major and minor scales a few times. Then, starting with the easiest song that you're most comfortable with (45t is good for this, though I prefer to use 33b because it's easier for me to pitch), go over all the parts individually in the order tenor, bass, treble, alto. Then sing it in four parts. Wash, rinse, repeat with more music, speeding up and eliminating the individual part run-throughs as people get more confident.

That's how I'd do it, and it's probably how Tim Eriksen would do it, since I think I cribbed that technique of workshop leading from him. Does that sound like something you might want to do?
Jun. 27th, 2009 08:40 pm (UTC)
It sounds fairly reasonable. Do you really manage to get through six songs in a hour (that's what we'll have).

The only issue would be that neither of us is particularly familiar with the alto part. Can we just call it good if we can cover three parts between us?:)

Just out of curiousity, why do you think it's important to include the history of Sacred Harp? Is that your inner ethnomusicologist speaking?:)

Have you ever lead a workshop with someone else? It seems like it might be interesting for people to hear us sing a couple (with the two parts) at the end (or maybe at the beginning?) that are a bit more complicated.
Jun. 27th, 2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
Do you really manage to get through six songs in a hour (that's what we'll have).

Depends on your group. It's better to have more songs than you need than to run out of songs and have to twiddle your thumbs to fill up the hour, though. I would photocopy plenty into the packet. The beginning of the book is good for having two tunes on some pages, which also helps.

The only issue would be that neither of us is particularly familiar with the alto part. Can we just call it good if we can cover three parts between us?:)

Some songs you can, since a lot of the earlier ones were originally written in three parts with the alto added in 1911. But then there are the ones that were originally in four parts, which is most of the fugues. Honestly, the alto lines aren't that hard to learn, so practice them up a few times before you go.

why do you think it's important to include the history of Sacred Harp?

"What is this thing?" "Who does it?" "Why do they do it?" "Why is it called Sacred Harp?" "Where did it come from?" "Where do people sing it?"

Those are the questions that your overview should be able to answer, because those are the questions that people confronted with this funny-looking music will ask about it.

Have you ever lead a workshop with someone else?

Sorta kinda. At WisCon, lcohen did most of the who what where when and why speech, then handed off to me for Introduction To The Notes And 45t. Splitting up jobs like that could be a good thing to prepare ahead of time.

What parts do you and dh sing?
Jun. 27th, 2009 09:36 pm (UTC)
Ok! I think we'll do it. Thanks for the guidance and inspiration:)

Did you and lcohen sing any songs together, just two of you?

I'm a treble and he's a tenor, although sometimes he can sing bass.
Jun. 27th, 2009 11:01 pm (UTC)
It wasn't just me and lcohen at WisCon! It was the full Peculiar Four quartet, consisting of me, lcohen, canyon_lady and rhobike. We started off our demo with a song by just the quartet (84), and by that point we'd attracted enough people, and we launched right into the workshop.
Jun. 27th, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC)
Ah, well, I'm not sure who will be there, but we will certainly try to have someone join in who could sing the alto part. Sounds like your workshop was fun!
Jun. 27th, 2009 11:08 pm (UTC)
If one of the experienced class members is an alto, that's all you need. Just learn the alto line well enough to lead the class in singing it, and let her prop up the rest of her bench. It's not that hard to learn alto.
Jul. 2nd, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC)
ms. pony and i have done 178 (africa) together just the two of us, upon occasion, though not that occasion--that's a song that works beautifully with two parts.

p.s. on ordinary days, i am a treble and fp is a tenor.

Edited at 2009-07-02 05:07 pm (UTC)
Jul. 2nd, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)
Great. Thanks for the added info:) I'm used to hearing songs with just those two parts because that's what we do when we're home and singing. We haven't got the girls singing Sacred Harp yet.
Jun. 27th, 2009 07:29 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a winner, Pony. I wonder if So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars will still be around then. (Or maybe their descendants.)
Jun. 27th, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC)
I hadn't even thought of including those shows! That's a great idea. If nothing else, they'll probably be around on DVD or something.
Jun. 28th, 2009 07:12 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm, and I hadn't even thought of DVD. Just figured some variant of those shows would be on the air. I do have a friend who critiques the dancing on those shows, frequently disagreeing with the judges.
Jun. 27th, 2009 10:24 pm (UTC)
Just saw an ad for a show on Oxygen that is a combo dance competition/weight loss show called Dance Your Ass Off.

Make of that what you will...
Jun. 27th, 2009 10:59 pm (UTC)
Looks like some kind of TV dance competition show will be around by the time I start teaching. I'm liking this topic more and more with all these new ideas.
Jun. 27th, 2009 11:33 pm (UTC)
That would be an awesome class!
Jun. 27th, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC)
A great inspiration to hurry up and finish so I can teach it.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


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