National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Honors in Practice, volume 4. Copyright 2008 National Collegiate Honors Council.


Music courses are often problematic for the general undergraduate student as they focus on abstract concepts, employ a specialized vocabulary, and examine compositions not part of most people’s everyday listening repertoire. Many will acknowledge that while they enjoy listening to music, their background and experiences are limited and steeped in the familiar. Appreciation is based on personal taste and often fails to consider historical context, structural components, and stylistic trends. Despite these obstacles, it is possible to construct a meaningful and challenging course for students, regardless of their major, as long as one is willing to use music not as an object for analysis but as a lens through which other topics are viewed, studied, and examined. Such an approach lends itself especially well to a discussion-based class and, in particular, an honors seminar.