Pedagogy: Kiri Miller

by justindburton on October 24, 2011

We’ve recently updated our Resources page to include a set of sample syllabi collected by the Pedagogy Committee. In conjunction with the new page, we’ll be featuring those syllabi in this space with a brief wrtie-up from the professors of each course. The pedagogy committee is happy to receive syllabi at any time (email them to Today’s featured syllabus comes from Kiri Miller.

Musical Youth Cultures: Integrating Technology
Kiri Miller
Manning Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Graduate Study, Ethnomusicology
Brown University

The design of the course, Musical Youth Cultures, purposefully integrates technology to support undergraduate students’ critical engagement with a variety of popular music genres and cultures. Through the seminar’s cross-cultural examination of musical youth communities, students explore ethnographic method, media studies, and subculture theory as they relate to music. They also examine their own musical production and consumption practices.

Using individual student blogs and a central class wiki in this course allowed me to acknowledge and build on students’ experience with multimedia technology and social networking sites (a crucial aspect of their own musical lives). It got us out of the blind alley of PowerPoint and onto the web—rather than concealing the source and online context of a great media example by embedding it in a slideshow, I showed students how and where I found it. Student discussion-leaders followed my example by creating wiki-hosted web supplements to accompany assigned course readings. Their classmates posted discussion questions about the reading and web materials to the wiki; the discussion-leading teams organized these questions thematically and showed them in class while guiding discussion. The individual blogs facilitated students’ work on a series of short “scaffolding” assignments for their research projects (e.g., topic proposal, fieldnotes, annotated bibliography, interview), which culminated in a final multimedia blog post. Because all the project components were posted on blogs, students were able to watch each other’s class projects unfold, offer each other support and feedback, and eventually draw on all their own posted materials (and their accumulated multimedia skills) to craft their final blog posts.

Kiri Miller is an ethnomusicologist whose work focuses on music of the Americas and ethnographic approaches to new technological practices. Her current research topics are videogame music and Sacred Harp/shape-note singing. She holds the Ph.D. in music from Harvard University and completed a Killam Memorial Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Alberta. Courses she has taught or will soon be teaching include Latino Diaspora Music, Musical Youth Cultures, Diaspora Music in the Americas, Music and Technoculture, Ethnography of Popular Music, “World Music” in Theory and Practice, Sacred Harp/Shape-Note Singing, and upper-level courses on ethnographic theory and method in ethnomusicology. Her new book, Playing Along: Digital Games, You Tube, and Virtual Performance, will appear in print from Oxford University Press in February 2012. She received a Teaching with Technology Award for Brown University faculty for the effective integration of digital media in this course.

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