Rock music can be used to teach class

By Troy Doetch

Even with her earplugs nestled safely, the nu-metal was too loud.

Her ears were fine but the bass guitar vibrating against her sternum was so overwhelming she was forced to leave her front row seat at Disturbed’s show. This was a disappointment because assistant professor of music Glenda Consenza loves Disturbed, she told the 30 attendees of her lecture “Listening to Rock Music: Music of Passion, Beauty and Emotion.” The lecture was a part of the IU Notables Brown Bag Lecture Series sponsored by LA&S External Programming and was held in Holmes Student Center.

Consenza isn’t a longtime fan. Having grown up on Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven, the classically trained pianist/vocalist never really listened to rock ‘n’ roll. It wasn’t until the death of Michael Jackson in 2009 that she was inspired to give the genre a chance. Today she listens to up to nine hours of hard rock and heavy metal, and has attended the concerts of U2, KISS (in makeup), and Alice in Chains. She even went to Ozzfest, Rockstar Energy Uproar Festival, and the American Carnage tour to see Slayer and Megadeth.

“[KISS] was a lot of fun, and they were really wonderful musicians. Paul Stanley is a wonderful singer,” Consenza said. “Tommy Thayer did a whole guitar solo of Beethoven’s 5th symphony; it was like seven minutes…It was awesome.”

All of this Consenza considers research for her book, “Beat It! Teaching General Music K-8 Using Rock and Rap,” which she hopes, upon it’s completion, will be used as a supplementary text to help teachers maintain student’s interests while demonstrating the fundamentals of music.

Since young children have their own MP3 players full of their own musical tastes, they’re not going to stay interested for very long with the conventional music presented, said Consenza. Therefore, she’s had her graduate students and associates testing out her method of using rock music to model important music concepts.

“I tend to focus on pieces I think offer a good model for children-when I say a good model I mean a good vocal technique, interesting instrumentation, and some rockers seem to have a sense of beauty in their music,” Consenza said. “I focused on teaching kids how to hear the musical elements in a rock piece and then generalize those things to other music like jazz, or classical.”

In her lecture Tuesday, she discussed her book, and her experiences with the genre that inspired it. Attendees listened to what Consenza considers good models, were informed of their history, and discussed their underlying musical qualities.

“It’s been really wonderful [learning about rock music]. I’m much closer to the students here,” Consenza said. “The students here are very excited about the work that I’m doing.”