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MUS654: An Open Connected Course

MUS654 is an online version of a course taught at the University of Chichester. It is about considering and creating a year’s curriculum for a music student having private lessons. –on any instrument, voice, any style of music and for any age person. It is an individually guided, open course designed to be useful for YOU in your learning and professional practice.

From the official rubric, (and yes, I wrote it) the course aims

To provide students with an understanding of appropriate repertoire for players and singers, both the graduated repertoire of examination syllabi and also to examine ways in which a range of musics can usefully become part of the repertoire and learning curriculum…

Over the course of a semester the different ingredients that go into musical learning are examined, and you are encouraged to discover what is out there in the realm of published literature, find and fill some gaps with your own creations, and put it together with a rationale that links it all to usefully set the scene for a year’s learning.

This is not a textbook course, nor is it an attempt to create a textbook. In music learning there are an awful lot of individual variables – people, instruments, ages, experience, personal ambitions… and it would be silly to imply that there ever could be a single answer for how to teach.

I don’t know about you, but most people learn music in a very private setting. Some teachers are awesome and share what they do, but this doesn’t happen as often as you might expect. As a cellist, I never considered observing a flute lesson, or sitting in on a singing lesson. Now this is not to say the teachers wouldn’t have let it happen, but I never even thought of it, and because the opportunity wasn’t generally presented to me on a plate, it never happened. This is not a unique situation that only happens in music. As a lecturer, I can’t say I have observed colleagues teaching in Sport or Business Studies. Why not? Perhaps it is just practical pressures like time? – maybe, but I think as well, it is just not yet part of the culture to think this way and be completely open.

So this is my experiment (encouraged by a friend who is heavily involved with Connected Courses). Talking about a subject that doesn’t get discussed, but it is something all teachers have to face. Personally, I can say that I had to figure it out myself. Yes, I had a fantastic foundation from excellent teachers, but there is that added aspect of needing to step back and reflect in order to put it all together. Hopefully MUS654 will give you that opportunity, so that when you do come to apply your teaching, you are not working week-by-week, but have already begun the processes of looking at learning as the raindrop, the teacup, and the ocean it will become.

It starts on the 11th of September…. Hope you will join me!

MUS654 Overview


photo CC licensed


MUS654 is a course to get you thinking about, around, with, and through all the things you do as a performer and as a teacher so that whenever it happens that you are teaching (or learning yourself) you have the tools to structure a supportive and full environment in which to learn. It is a bit like baking…. you learn about the properties of the ingredients before you go rogue and make profiteroles from scratch. That gives a snapshot of insight into how the topics were chosen, and the content that you create will be highly individual. The huge resource is in reaching out to the community, because there are both a lot of teachers and a lot of musicians out there – and there’s no sense reinventing the wheel all by your (or my) self!

Feel free to take part in what you can and take from it what you want.

Topics at a glance…


1. The mechanics of sound

2. What makes a melody?

3. Scales and the relationship of notes

4. Studies and supplemental material

5. Repertoire

6. Technical issues

7. Planning a rationale

8. Phrasing and musicality

9. Demonstration lesson

10. Interlinking issues

11. Final projects


CC licensed

Each topic will have its own page to get the cogs turning. The point of it all is to give a holistic view that can then be honed to suit individual teaching and learning circumstances. Gotta think of all the bits before you can put it together if you want it to stick.

I have contributions from performers and artists from around the world that I am in touch with. You may think – hey! what about that?? – and you are probably right. The list is not the end, but just the beginning. So if you think there is something or someone (to interview or link with) who would make a valuable contribution to a session, then please get in touch!

Keynote at UEA 3 Sept. 2014

HEA funded Project Conference at UEA, Norwich

HEA funded Project Conference at UEA, Norwich