I knew this course was going to be challenging, a lot of work, and that it would be a wonderful combination of my two majors here at St. Olaf. I think it did turn out to be all of those things but in a different way than I imagined. Reflecting back on this course I definitely will remember and appreciate one of the early articles we read about the Suyá people as well as all of our conversations about Bach. I always wonder about appreciating art without understanding the full intent of the artist (that would be nearly impossible), and this course and our Bach discussions have further complicated those questions in my mind. I also will always remember that the distinction between “sacred” and “secular” music is not a strict dichotomy and I should use those words and categories sparingly and with qualifying explanations.
One of my biggest challenges with music history is finding how it translates to life beyond St. Olaf. However, because the entire semester we looked at music overlapping other parts of life I think I practiced looking beyond one topic or subject for how it influences and is influenced by other parts of the world (such as politics, power, geographical location, etc.). Additionally, as with any course in college, the dynamic and pace of the classroom participants and the schedule present a new set of challenges. I think I will remember this class fondly for how it pushed me to create different kinds of work on a timeline in a group of people (and young scholars) who were all coming from different religious backgrounds and points of view. When I go into my life after St. Olaf, I will look back at this class as one of my most homogenous experiences since we all have a strong bond of all being St. Olaf students who had taken a year of the music history survey and there’s a lot of shared common knowledge there. This semester was a unique one for me, just as every semester is unique. Since courses do not exist in a vacuum I wonder how being in a different life stage would have changed my perception of this class.
I appreciated that we were preparing for the 500th anniversary of the reformation and we had the theme of Luther running throughout the course, but I think I would have enjoyed spending more time exploring other religions and their musical traditions. I’m sure that would end up needing to be its own course, though.