We live in a global community, it is our duty to reach out and understand one another.
In today’s work environment which encourages employees to think “outside the box,” many institutions of higher learning have done their students a disservice by abandoning the core value of a liberal arts education. For these schools, the meaning of College has come to signify specific training in a particular field. As a result, their almuni/ae enter the work force ill-suited for the innovative entrepreneurial spirit and ill-prepared to adapt to the diversity of an ever changing global economy.
I am proud to serve at Augsburg College where the liberal arts degree is still respected as meaning: the ready ability to draw upon a broad variety of disciplines, to know how to learn independently, to apply knowledge, to critically analyze problems, and understand how to work with individuals and groups of diverse cultures and worldview.
In teaching music as one of the traditional seven liberal arts, I help students overcome the peril of “functional fixedness” through active and peer learning strategies. Rather than focusing solely on the memorization of facts and terms, my students (whether in class, ensemble or private study) use their senses to experience music–applying those terms to their subjective tastes as well as objective critical analysis in order to arrive at a well-considered conclusion. Students also develop the necessary skill of collaboration by discussing their diversity of perspectives and providing mature constructive feedback. In music improvisation, I expose students to diverse modes of improv traditions as practiced by many cultures around the world and encourage them through exercises (and an attitude of fearlessness) to experiment based upon what they have learned.
As an electric bassist, my primary concern is ensuring that students learn a sound ergonomic technique which reduces risk of injury. For this I have developed a method focused on the unique requirements of the electric bass with exercises designed to facilitate fingering while maintaining good posture. Rather than launching into “flashy technical riffs” my students learn early on the traditional musical leadership role of the bass — it provides the foundation of harmony, beat and rhythm–it is the singular focal point upon which all musicians rely. In this sense the bassist is the conductor who is always aware of the music and will assert direction when things go awry.
K. Christian McGuire is a musicologist, performer, and instructor with a dual specialty in 21st century electric bass and 12th-century liturgical manuscripts of the Rhineland. As an electric bassist with over 25 years of experience he has played and recorded in every conceivable setting. His current research on bass is focused on tone and technique as applied to live performance in modern symphonic/electronic orchestration and musical theatre. As a medieval musicologist he is best known for his work on the Symphonia of Hildegard von Bingen, the development of Cistercian and Premonstratensian liturgies in women’s monastic communities, and medieval music performance practice and reconstruction.
Prior to Augsburg, McGuire taught early music and popular music history at the McNally-Smith College of Music where he co-designed the NASM approved curricula for their B.A. programs. In addition to his performances and recordings as electric bassist & vocalist, McGuire has served as musicologist for the Minnesota High School Music Listening Contest, guest lecturer on Music paleography at the Hill Monastic Library and Museum in Collegeville, MN, and most recently as organizer and chair of the “Martin Luther in Medieval Context” session at the 45th International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo, MI. He currently serves as Treasurer and webmaster for theInternational Society of Hildegard von Bingen Studies and volunteers as Latin language tutor and fencing coach at Nova Classical Academy in St. Paul, MN where he resides with his wife, two children, and two cats.
For more information: http://www.christianmcguire.com
- B.A. Philosophy and Classics, Luther College
- M.A. Musicology, University of Minnesota