January 31, 2016
The Jazz MOOC
Last summer Hamilton College offered me the opportunity to teach a MOOC on jazz. Like most people, I had to ask for an explanation. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course, and some of you may be familiar with this new approach to online learning that many academic institutions are engaging in. Our course is entitled Jazz: The Music, The Stories, The Players. It is designed for both the casual listener, the avid fan and the practicing musician. The course runs for six weeks, it is FREE and it is open to anyone around the globe who wants to expand their musical horizons. Students can work at their own pace as individual schedules allow.
During these weeks we ask and answer some questions: Why does jazz sound like it does? What is improvisation and what guides a player’s choices? How do musicians communicate on the bandstand? And how did jazz move from entertainment to an art form?
Interspersed in the course are poignant and fascinating stories offered by Fillius Jazz Archive interviewees in never-before-seen video clips. Students will see and hear anecdotes from jazz icons like Lionel Hampton, Jon Hendricks, and Dave Brubeck, as well as significant current players such as Rossano Sportiello, Ralph LaLama and John Fedchock.
MOOCers will be invited to join a discussion board to exchange opinions and experiences with fellow course participants. Currently over 5000 people have registered for this course, from 154 countries around the world. Jazz resources and relevant links offer students an opportunity to continue their jazz exploration further than the confines of material presented in this course.