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Berklee College of Music

Teaching Popular Music in the Classroom

Berklee College of Music via Coursera


Teaching Popular Music in the Classroom explores approaches to teaching popular music from culturally rich communities in the United States. Students in the course will learn teaching methods that engage youth with the basics of improvisation, technology, songwriting, arranging film score, and writing to the strengths of small bands. The course models how to integrate principles of authentic cultural relevance and positive youth development with contemporary music instruction, while providing tools for assessing and documenting learning and program progress.

Students in the course will refine their own pedagogical skills, applying principles of contemporary music instruction. Content and approaches are intended for secondary music programs, but can be adapted for elementary grade levels. All lessons are based in core standards for music education with recommendations for assessments.


  • Welcome to Teaching Popular Music!
    • Welcome to the course! Here we will cover all the details about the course and what you'll need to know to get the most out of your experience.
  • Conversations Through Sound: Improvisation, Listening, and Cultural Contexts
    • In this lesson we'll begin discussing the first steps towards encouraging improvisation in your classroom. We will look at how to tune your students' ears to promote self-assessment as they play and we will discuss the importance of choosing music that is culturally relevant to your unique group of students.
  • Songwriting
    • In this second lesson, we will learn the basic principles and techniques of songwriting. We will look at examples of how to create a safe space for students to share their creativity. Finally, we will discuss creating a lesson to introduce songwriting to your students.
  • Arranging Music with Interactive Media Tools
    • In this lesson we will discuss how to utilize technology into your teaching and lesson plans. We will learn how different technologies can be used to assist students with arranging music. We will also learn methods to engage and empower the students in our classrooms.
  • Making the Band: From Modeling to Informal Learning
    • In this lesson we will dive into creating an ensemble. We will identify ways to demonstrate how contemporary music can be used to fulfill the core music standards and how to pitch the idea of a contemporary ensemble to school leaders. We will also examine examples of instructional approaches with small ensembles and how to create student-led groups.

Taught by

Krystal Banfield and David Alexis


4.7 rating at Coursera based on 90 ratings

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