Stories from the Podium

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Stories from the Podium

Introduced by Barbara Reul (Musicology/Editor of Impetus)

The idea to approach Luther College professors and sessionals about sharing their very own “Story from the Podium” occurred to me at a Luther College Academic Advisory Committee meeting in January 2016 when we talked about how teaching has shaped us and continues to have an impact on who we are and what we do in the classroom. I thank Dr. Phillip Sevigny (Psychology) for suggesting the snappy title, and my colleagues for rising to the occasion. 

My very own “Story from the Podium” can be found below.   

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As a music historian who is also a performing musician (I am the organist and choir accompanist at a local Lutheran church in Regina), I have a good sense of what students majoring in music need – it’s a tough programme. But nobody had prepared me for my very first Music 100, “Introduction to Music” course, a music appreciation class that I had to teach upon my arrival at Luther College in the fall of 2003. Not only did I find it very hard to explain complex terminology to students who could not read music, but I was also scared of teaching large classes in a very dark auditorium. And trying to meet the needs of students with (invisible) disabilities? An overwhelming task, as far as I was concerned.

A workshop on pedagogical techniques, to be offered by our very first “Writing Across the Disciplines” coordinator Camilla McCabe as part of a teaching circle held at Luther College in 2004, seemed like a fabulous idea. Little did I know how much Camilla’s suggestions were going to alter my teaching “universe”. She proposed – in a fun and entertaining way – to 1) “be colourful”, especially in PowerPoint presentations, i.e. highlight important words using different colours; 2) “be memorable”, i.e. tell more stories more often, especially funny personal ones; and 3) “be compassionate”, today and every day.

It did not take long for me to realize that Camilla’s recommendations were, in fact, metaphors for how I wanted to live my life as a human being and for others to see me. Sadly, Camilla passed away in the fall of 2006 at the age of 34, following a long illness. I never got to tell her about how life-changing that afternoon had been for me, and how much all of my students and I continue to enjoy her “three be’s” to this day. If I had, she would likely have given me her million-dollar smile and said “good job, Barb – keep it up!”