Olga Sánchez-Kisielewska wins award from the Gail Boyd de Stwolinski Center for Music Theory Pedagogy

Olga Sánchez-Kisielewska

We are pleased to announce that Olga Sánchez-Kisielewska, Lecturer in Music Theory, is a recipient of the first Gail Boyd de Stwolinski Prize for research delivered at the inaugural Pedagogy into Practice conference last June.

Two papers were selected for the award:

  • Olga Sánchez-Kisielewska. “The Rule of the Octave in First Year Undergraduate Theory: Teaching in the Twenty-First Century with Eighteenth Century Strategies.”

  • Derek Remeš. “Chorales in J. S. Bach’s Pedagogy: Recasting the First Year Undergraduate Music Theory Curriculum in Light of a New Source.”

Both papers have since been evaluated by the Editorial Board of the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy for publication. These articles will appear in Volume 32 of the journal, anticipated release date July 2018.

All issues of Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy are now available in open access at https://music.appstate.edu/about/jmtp.

Read an abstract of  “The Rule of the Octave in First Year Undergraduate Theory: Teaching in the Twenty-First Century with Eighteenth Century Strategies.”

From the Neapolitan conservatories to Mozart’s Vienna, eighteenth-century musicians commenced the study of harmony by learning a rule of thumb for the harmonization of scalar basses known as the Rule of the Octave (henceforth RO). In this paper I present a series of strategies to incorporate the RO into Freshman Music Theory, including activities for keyboard and aural skills.

The first stage of activities consists of memorizing the RO in writing, singing (arpeggios and melodic lines), and performing at the keyboard. Later on, this knowledge is applied to improvisation exercises in which students move up and down the scale using a given rhythmic pattern. We also incorporate the RO into the analysis of pieces in which segments of the bass- line move stepwise, inviting the comparison between the actual realization of the bass and the expectations derived from the rule.

The goals of these activities include:

- Establishing a strong connection—intellectual, aural, and physical—between scale degrees and chords (i.e., a Mi bass is more frequently I6 than iii).

- Learning a variety of chords attached to a harmonic context. (i.e., V43 as passing chord).

- Becoming familiar with harmonic patterns and their typical voice-leading and function before their formal introduction (i.e., Aug6 as predominant).

- Increasing student motivation by re-enacting the experiences of real musicians of the past.

Sharing my personal experience with the RO in the classroom I hope to demonstrate the pedagogical benefits of recovering and updating a teaching resource crucial in the history of Western music.