Music-Making for Beginners

I often consider the many ways music education prevents entry into music-making. For example, in many places, unless you join beginning band in sixth grade, there may be few (if any) opportunities to join band through middle and high school. Many such road blocks exist in K-12 eduction. Higher ed, of course, presents another significant barrier. Unless you’ve come to the university with years of musical experience, opportunities to create and perform music as a beginner are usually limited or non-existent.

In an effort to create an entry way into music-making for college students, I created MUSC 120 Music-Making for Beginners. Students learn ukulele or guitar (they choose) and GarageBand (and piano and/or drum set if time/equipment is available). They learn various music reading skills (traditional notation, chord charts, TAB, etc.) and compose music in GarageBand with keyboards and loops with no specific literacy/theory skills.

These last few weeks of the semester, students are working on a project of choice. Some are scoring videos, others are playing and singing their favorite tunes, some are creating arrangements of their favorite songs, while others are writing their own songs with lyrics.

Students make tremendous progress in a relatively short period. Importantly, they leave with skills and resources to continue music-making into the future. And I’m thrilled to share that students have emailed me semesters and years after the course to tell me they are still making music.

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