Hurst Class Catalog: World Music/ Jazz History

Sarah Beck, Staff writer

Music majors, you are going to want to read this. MUS207 is world music and jazz music history class that will get you jamming and grooving.

This class is taught by Dr. Allen Zurcher Instructor of World Music and Jazz Music History who previously taught at Mercyhurst from 1987-1990 and recently rejoined the faculty in 2006. One of Zurcher’s favorite parts of teaching is interacting with the students.

Students’ testimonies indicate that Zurcher seems to be an amazing and interactive professor. Junior music major Willow Lapp said, “What further brought me excitement [to take world music/jazz history] was knowing that Dr. Allen Zurcher would be teaching the course. Dr. Zurcher is an incredibly talented saxophonist and someone I have looked up to throughout my time here at Mercyhurst. It has been a pleasure to be in his class and get to learn from him.”

World music and jazz music history is taught every fall semester and is open for any music majors who would like to take this class. The course itself is split into two parts: world music history and jazz music history.

The first half of the semester is typically focused on world music history. During this portion of the semester students take time to examine a wide variety of cultures and their different musical forms from all around the globe. Zurcher said that the emphasis for this portion of the course is on, the cultural significance and performance practice of music from specific ethnicities. The lateral half of the semester is focused on jazz music history. During this section of the class, students learn all about the origins as well as the evolution of jazz from the Civil War to the present day.

While learning about the evolution of jazz, there is also a large emphasis on specific significant individuals in the world of jazz music that students get to learn all about. “Currently we are in the Jazz History portion of the course, which is something I have definitely been excited to take as a collegiate Jazz musician myself, specifically on saxophone,” said Lapp. Zurcher is a strong believer that historical context is very important, but that students should also be able to develop abilities that allow them to analyze as well as discuss music with a common understanding. “I approach this course from a performance practice perspective,” said Zurcher. This class truly emphasizes the growth of these two skills throughout the entire semester.

Hayley Ripple, a senior Music Education Major with a concentration in voice said, “I really enjoy that this class focuses on music other than the culturally accepted styles that our Western Music has to offer. The class has given me plenty of opportunities to partake in the music of other cultures, including creating a muk’yu (pronounced Muyu), which is a Chinese poem or traveling song that was used to communicate stories between migrators to the United States.”

All in all this class is an amazing opportunity for music majors to gain a valuable overview of world music and jazz history as well as offering an opportunity to gain a broader understanding of various differing cultures and their music from all over the world.