Chords, ballads, rhythm changes and lyrics.
Assistant professor Lenora Helm Hammonds began teaching “Composing Arranging and Song Writing in the Global Network” in 2012 (MUSL 1300 OL). Her class focuses on jazz and offers students the ability to interact and network with other students across the country.
“I believe jazz is a vehicle to connect culture,” said Helm. “Jazz music is considered the classical music of international globalization.”
According to Helm Hammonds, her course engages in cultural competency through the subject and follows C.O.I.L, an acronym standing for “collaborative online international learning.”
Helm Hammonds applied for a grant in 2012 to receive training for courses that involved music and networking with others internationally. She won a fellowship to be a lead fellow for a team of international educators in New York.
Faculty from NCCU and schools in Denmark and South Africa trained for a week in New York on different courses that included literature, science, architecture, theatre and play-writing. NCCU was the only school that chose music and jazz for their global training.
“Composing Arranging and Song Writing in Global Network” students collaborate and write music with people in other countries, meet musicians and receive the opportunity to engage and experience a different style of music.
“A lot of time our students don’t even think about traveling,” said Helm Hammonds.
According Mark Thorne, a graduate student in jazz voice performance, he will be able to takes what he learns in the course and use it for international and cultural opportunities.
“I had the chance to go to Aruba and work with jazz vocalists,” said Thorne.
Helm said she worried if her students would enjoy the class.
“I’m always thinking of how I can connect my students to the world,” said Helm.
Second degree senior jazz studies major Cordara Harper said the course provides a great and awesome feeling that promotes being approachable by collaborating over distance.
“They [students] thought they were coming to write songs,” said Helm. “When they started composing with each other and had to come up with lyrics for somebody in Denmark or cords for someone in South Africa … they had to start asking each other ‘what do they do it in their spare time, how do they learn music?’”
The students connect with the other students internationally through a teleconference room every week.
“It has the best possible opportunity to connect very different cultures, it was a common thread,” said Helm Hammonds. “We have people in that class from Norway, people from little townships in South Africa, people from Connecticut, people from New York and people from big swamp North Carolina.”
According to Helm Hammonds there is a teacher in the classroom on the other side to help translate the culture and content of course work and make sure it’s being represented authentically. This year NCCU has partnered with Concordia University in Canada and the University of South Africa-Pretoria.
Helm Hammonds said she hopes her course will be included in the UNC system as a global certificate program.
“I love it,” said Helm. “It’s important for every Eagle to have a passport because Eagles fly.”