Morenci Area High School band director Jamie DeVoe can add the title Guest Lecturer to his name—at least for one day in April.
Mr. DeVoe is enrolled in the University of Michigan’s summer master’s program and one of his professors, music education chair Dr. Marie McCarthy, became interested in the Music Appreciation class he teaches in Morenci.
Dr. McCarthy was looking for a good music class for her undergraduate students to observe in their Secondary General Music course and those classes are often hard to find.
“The difficulty of finding a class like that in high schools around here is because most band/choir directors teach only band and/or choir—many times both—and don’t offer a class like music appreciation,” Mr. DeVoe said. “I’ve taught it since I started here almost three years ago. It was added to replace the choir class that was dropped before I was hired.”
Dr. McCarthy sat in on a class session in Morenci and talked to Mr. DeVoe afterwards. She decided the drive from Morenci was too far for her undergrads to visit for a practice teaching session, so she chose the next best thing—inviting Mr. DeVoe to Ann Arbor to speak to her class.
“She wanted to use my class as an example and use some of my ideas, and she asked me to be a guest lecturer in her class in April,” Mr. DeVoe said.
He views his Music Appreciation class as a supplement to the band program. Band is still the best place to learn about music, he said, but this offers students more to consider.
“I wanted to teach a class where kids learned about what I call ‘musical common sense’ and get them to listen and learn about music they may not typically listen to,” he said.
Mr. DeVoe presents a variety of musical styles, going chronologically from the beginning of “Western” music to the history of rock and roll.
“We have a listening assignment each day that covers listening skills, the history behind the music, and how it relates to society at the time,” Mr. DeVoe said. “I try to incorporate general world history and political aspects of the time, as they usually coincide quite closely.”
His goal is to broaden musical horizons, and he’s successful with many students. Some will leave class with an appreciation of musical styles they initially thought they wouldn’t enjoy. He’s even made some CDs of classical music and jazz to share.
“The majority probably still don’t like a lot of it, but hopefully they understand and appreciate that they wouldn’t have the music they do now if it weren’t for the hundreds of years of musical development we talk about in class.”