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!


  1. Nigel Rippon

    Hi Laura!

    Watching teachers from other disciplines is essential. I’ve learned so much from doing this. Obviously time is an issue, but the internet has provided us with an endless resource that can be accessed at any time. There are thousands of online lessons just on youtube – some of them are awful, but you can learn lots by seeing how NOT to do it!

    I also use youtube to give my lessons some context. My biggest criticism of my own education is that my teachers never played me any recordings or took me to live performances. Comparing different interpretations is vital for more advanced students, but watching live performances can also inspire beginners. If they’re inspired to learn, it makes the teacher’s job so much easier.

    I think that this open course is an excellent idea, by the way. Looking forward to more of the same!

  2. Mimi Ito

    This is a lovely articulation of one of the gaps in our professional ant path as teachers in higher ed -that for many of us there isn’t much of an existing expectation or practice that we observe and learn from how our colleagues teach. And even more so across disciplines as you say! Browsing the blogs on connected courses I’m already floored by the range of subjects and disciplines represented. Visibility into how colleagues outside of my discipline are teaching is definitely going to be one of the benefits of being part of this network.

    1. Post

      Mimi, thank you for taking the time to read and comment – you are very encouraging. I spend a lot of time now working with and looking over the shoulders of people in other disciplines, and it gives me fresh eyes, as I am not bound by expectations of what I ‘should’ be learning. I am keen to see how my window here can be useful to musicians and non-musicians. The network is definitely a fantastic resource.

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