One of my unofficial new year’s resolutions was to dedicate some time to learning. Have you heard of MOOCs – massive open online classes? Well, there are MANY online courses on every subject imaginable, hosted from many different institutions and web portals. They are free – if audited, and are taken online from the comfort of your couch. Ten weeks ago I enrolled in a MOOC on Jazz Appreciation on edx.org, along with 11,000(!) other students. I love all kinds of music, but I really didn’t know much about Jazz, and I thought if I learned a bit more about it, its eras and artists, that I might enjoy it even more.
Today I finished the course. I highly recommend it. I now know a bit more about early jazz, swing, bebop, cool, hard bop, modal, free jazz, fusion, and neo-classical eras. I know that Coltrane was THE MAN on tenor sax. I know that Miles varied his music on trumpet to influence many eras. I found out that I really like the pianist Bill Evans and will seek out some of his albums. I understand why Charles Mingus and Thelonius Monk transcend a specific Jazz era. I decided that I don’t care as much for bebop – no offense to Dizzy and the Bird. I enjoy early jazz and modal and hard bop and cool. I can distinguish blues form from AABA form. I can listen for the bass and drums to try to pick out swing from even-8th rhythm. I heard many snippets of a variety of performances from artists that I was already aware of, whetting my interest to hear more by them. And I learned about some of the newest artists to appear on the Jazz stage. Professor Hellmer was great.
All and all, a great class! Aaaaaand, I got an A. 🙂
openculture.com maintains a list of over a thousand MOOCs here. Take a look, pick one out that sounds interesting, and enroll!
2 thoughts on “Jazz it up.”
Thanks for the tip! Actually I should take the same class, I am a huge fan of the blues, the grittier the better but have little appreciation for jazz! I just joined a Sunday morning 8am book club. We’re studying Islam vs Christianity via a Google hangout. Today is our first session. Maybe I take can take a MOOC at the same time? Sounds fascinating!!!
Hi Teri. I’m not sure when the next class will be held. You might want to bookmark it or follow to get updates. Enjoy your book club.