Devin Chaloux devin.chaloux at gmail.com
Thu Apr 26 11:46:22 PDT 2012

Good afternoon SMT-talk list,

I think this particular discussion is valid at the moment. I do find it
difficult to encourage students to bring the book to class. However, there
are several reasons that I think detailed textbooks are necessary in
today's instruction.

As others have pointed out, the textbooks today go beyond just counterpoint
or just harmony. Issues of form, twentieth-century materials, and
neo-Riemannian theory have started being introduced into textbooks. Second,
for the student with particular learning difficulties (or even
disabilities), a lecture in class may not provide enough background needed
to complete the homework. That's why I typically lecture on the material in
class and encourage students who have questions to consult the textbook. I
know most students won't do this. Some of them do, however, and those are
the ones that really benefit from a lengthy textbook. Third, many of these
textbooks contain more exercises than you could ever do in one class--but
this is beneficial to the instructor who wishes to customize the exercises
for their particular interests.

There, of course, is another important point to make about this issue. I
imagine that the next generation of textbooks will be available through
online purchase and can be accessed on iPads, Kindles, Nooks, laptops,
netbooks, and whatever fancy device they'll have out by then. It's
important to note that all of these devices (at least as I'm aware) have
audio capabilities as well. I envision the day when students will be able
to read the text and be able to listen to examples through a simple
touch/click of the score excerpt. Then, there won't be an issue about
carrying a heavy book around to class. I also think that it is not
ridiculous for us to assume that in 10-15 years that every student will
have access to, at least, one of these devices.

Music (and music theory specifically) is one of the last academic fields to
move towards an online format for their textbooks and homework. Part of the
issue is that our textbooks are so complicated given that we need audio,
graphics, and the ability to notate music. I have no doubt that this issue
will be solved in the upcoming years. I find that the future for theory
(and its subsequent texts) is incredibly exciting.
Devin Chaloux*
University of Cincinnati - College-Conservatory of Music
M.M. in Music Theory '12
University of Connecticut
B.M. in Music Theory '10
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