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Alison Sommers


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The content of this course is outstanding. He merges art and architecture, as well as snippets of history, with the music to give the student context and more nuanced understanding. He doesn't bombard you with too much music to retain, but has carefully chosen iconic (but not always the best-known) representative works that illustrate important points. Each lecture is engaging and builds on prior knowledge. The use of slides and videos is spot- on, just the write length of time and they are well-chosen. He has traveled widely and uses many of his own photographs, which are outstanding, as well. And now the negative bits. He repeats certain phrases often, in a peculiar way, with long pauses between the words, as though he were teaching a foreign speaker an English phrase. He does this as a sort of tic, not just when the phrase is an important one. Without a transcript to follow, the student must gaze steadfastly at the lecturer and he grimaces often, which is distracting. Some of the more technical points are not well explained, but luckily they usually don't appear on the quizzes and not really understanding them won't interfere with the general content for classical music novices--the real strength and intent of the course. Many of the lectures leave you wanting to know more, a sign of an outstanding course. As the other reviewer has mentioned, the quizzes are poorly written, badly edited, ambiguous and often focus more on the trivial facts than the major concepts. Sometimes it seems the questions parallel the lectures but weren't actually covered. I suspect this is the TAs responsibility, but, if so, he needs a bit more supervision and a really good editor. Re Coursera: this is my first Coursera course, as I am an edX fan, EdX is vastly superior in all ways, except in the breadth of course selection (which is why I'm taking this music class--edX is weak in the humanities.) The Progress tab in edX is very, very (extremely!) useful and motivating; Coursera has nothing that charts your progress. I object mightily to not having real-time transcript streaming beside the lecture, as well. It would be much better to have the quizzes follow immediately after the lectures, rather than appearing in a separate link.