English 101: Podcasts, OAT Projects, and Music Communities

When I first registered for Western Washington University’s course, English 101, I was expecting to be writing essays and reading books, not making a podcast. Going into class, I expected it to be like how it’s portrayed in books and movies: a dull, lifeless class with at least a hundred other students struggling to stay awake. That’s not how it turned out to be.

On the first day of class, I walked into a small classroom, covered in whiteboards, and we, 20 other students and I, were introduced to the three large assignments for the class: a podcast, the OAT project, and the wrap-up project. The first one up was the podcast. We were challenged to find a topic that relates to university life, and since I plan on being a music education major, naturally I chose a topic relating to music. For the podcast, a recorded audio project, I investigated why people stay involved in music in higher education. Through this project, I answered that question and as it turns out, many people stay involved in music because of the community.

However, while researching for the podcast, I came across the idea that music makes you smarter because it helps you understand your place in the world and yourself as a human being. And as the OAT, which stands for observing, analyzing, theorizing, project came along, I decided to research how the music community helps you understand your place in the world, linking the major ideas in my podcast in a more formal way. This project was more of what I expected in an English 101 class. Although, we still had to make an infographic.

Through this project, I came up with the idea of the “Band Family.” My idea of the “Band Family” is that the community is more important than we thought: the community surrounding music is helpful for people, as stated before, to help them discover their place and in the world and themselves as human beings. Basically, it’s not the music alone that helps people start to heal, even in music therapy, it’s the ability to share what cannot be expressed by words and have it understood by others.

Enrolling in English 101, which is a mandatory course at most colleges or universities, provided me a chance to investigate parts of my life that I hadn’t thought about before. I just accepted the fact the band had a closer bond with each other, and the conductor, compared to other classes and I’d never considered why. I was certain that this class would be boring and like every other English class I have taken, but it wasn’t. This class was not at all like what I, or others, were expecting. I can speak for most of us, with the exception of a few, that we actually enjoyed this class and that we’ve learned things that will help us throughout our university careers.

So, thank you, Maggie. Thank you for putting up with our nonsense and, for some, our clear desire to be somewhere else. Thank you for providing an opportunity to express ourselves and adding another way to do that to our educations.