Music Appreciation with Dr. Alison Robuck

Dr. Alison Robuck.

February 1, 2013

Through the study of music, Music 109, Music Appreciation, offers students the opportunity to broaden their understanding of, and compassion for, the outside world. Students listen to and learn about various styles and periods of music found throughout the world. Below is a Q&A with Dr. Alison Robuck, affiliate instructor with the Department of Music, who teaches the course.

What is your musical background?

"I have performed classical music since I was a child, and I continued my interest in music through my doctorate in oboe performance. I have performed in orchestras around the country, and I currently teach at a summer chamber music festival in Prague."

What do you try to teach students in the course?

"First and foremost, music is never created in a bubble. Composers of all time periods react to the cultural environments in which they live by creating music that is relevant to the world around them. Music 109 at Bradley offers students the opportunity to understand how composers of different eras created different styles of music. 

"Secondly, throughout history, music has been created by youth. Even though a particular composition may date from 1820, its composer was very likely in his or her late teens or twenties – the same age as anyone taking Music 109! Many people tend to think of music of the past as old, but truly music has always been youthful and fresh."

What do you enjoy about teaching Music Appreciation?

"Bradley students are wonderful to work with because there is always a core group of students who are ready to learn, and they want to learn something new. I enjoy sharing my insight and passion for each new topic over the course of the semester. My greatest enjoyment is giving my students a piece or composer that they otherwise might have overlooked or not heard of, and knowing that I am offering something remarkable that they then have the opportunity to go forward with on their own."

Why do you think that music is an important part of a student’s general education?

"Music is crucial for education because it allows the opportunity to experience an ever-present element of daily life on an intellectual level, and not a purely emotional level. Music engages a person at cognitive, social, visual, and most importantly, aural, levels. By studying a vast array of music from the beginning of Western Civilization, students can begin to consider their role in selecting the music they listen to, how music affects their lives, and how it can affect the lives of others around them. 

"Music is truly a creative experience, not only for the composer and the performer, but also for the listener. I always encourage Bradley students to be creative not only in their listening choices, but also in how actively they listen."

The class offers students a deeper connection with music, even if it's been a part of their life for some time. Here's a firsthand account from a Music 109 student, psychology major Marissa Koranda '14.

"I wanted to let you know how much I really enjoyed your music appreciation class. My grandfather has been our church choir director for over 50 years now and has always played classical music in the car and whenever we are around him.

"Music is a really big priority in my family and I got a lot of background knowledge in your class, and your class really connected with me. Your teaching style was great and your interest in music history sparked my own. You always seemed so happy and energetic when teaching the material, and as a student, it really made it easy to go to class and actually enjoy it."