Music Education Encourages New Dimensions, Hippies?

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Philosophy about music education has increasingly become a topic of discussion. Music educators and professors alike are finding that providing students different alternatives to study music creates a more habitable learning environment.

Tune in to this music class where course work consists of creating your own songs. Matthew Thibeault, assistant professor in music education at the University of Illinois, allows students to construct and play their own ukuleles, according to the

“It’s honestly hard not to smile when strumming the ukulele while singing,” said senior Rachel Atlas. “We can’t help it. It’s always such a happy atmosphere.”

If you add tie-dye shirts, bell-bottoms, peace signs and a couple of reefers to the picture, you might just have a modern-day hippie movement in class.

Although this is not the case, Thibeault books places for students to perform various sing-alongs in front of audiences at the end of the course in an effort to help students define themselves as musicians.

The Electronic Music Composition course offered at the University of Georgia for junior John Hamilton Smith V is as richly innovative. Students learn techniques developed by the pioneers of electronic composition. According to Smith, what’s more fascinating is “the chance to do the same thing explorers did.” Perhaps these pioneering music students are uncovering what's about to become popular in education, essentially embodying the musical hipster.

Other institutions like Full Sail University and Berklee College of Music are known for their diverse range of course offerings, many of which are limited to students outside a specialized and financially supported music curriculum.

Majoring in music with a concentration in music business, Sharmelle Hunte, a junior at New Jersey City University would love to see more variety in her music department, which primarily focuses on opera and classical music. “I think the classes we have are good, but I would like to see more composition,” she said.

Conductor of Rutgers Chorus, Dr. John Floreen said “lack of funding” is to blame for lesser class selections. As a matter of fact, Rutgers Music Program is now part of the ACM, Department of Art, Culture and Media, only offering solid core music courses and not nearly as many electives, he revealed.

While Hunte and Floreen await the country’s economy to turn around, unorthodox music courses like Thibeault’s have been well received by students, and maybe the free-spirited hipster era is to thank.

Check out Berklee students' electronic turntable ensemble performance here:

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Senior > English and Business Administration > Seton Hall University

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