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New course serves up a taste of Italy through its music

Italy Through Its Music is an innovative, interesting and fun journey through that old-World nation with music as the mode of transportation.

“Music memorization is easier. I am proud of this course because it goes well beyond learning a language. It makes it easier to learn and love a culture, like the Italian, that is deeply musical at heart,” said Ilaria Serra, the instructor.

The class, taught in English, probably will be offered every other year as a special topics course.

“There is a lot of listening to Italian songs. I always value student’s questions and comments. I also ask those who are taking Italian classes to translate the songs for everyone in the class,” Serra said.

Serra, an assistant professor of language and linguistics, takes advantage of the songs found on the video Web site YouTube,

“Although I have CDs and cassettes with audio material, I find that YouTube has a lot of rare Italian material,” she said.

One member of the class concurred that YouTube was an unexpected, valuable resource.

“I have never studied music before, and the exposure to YouTube has presented the opportunity to further explore different interpretations of a song," student Thomas Connors said.

"The interaction between the students has been an unexpected bonus since we all appreciate listening to music we would never experience on our own and everyone's comments and perceptions are quite interesting,” he said.

Connors is a unique student. He's 57, has a bachelor's degree in French literature and has been taking courses in the Italian department since 2004 "to enhance my knowledge of Italian culture and hone my Italian language skills."

He says "Professor Serra has succeeded in conveying her knowledge to the students."

During the course, students learn Italian history from the end of the 1700s until present.

"It is believed that music creates a sense of place and can be used as a metaphor for an entire culture. In class, we keep this in mind while trying to visualize a musical portrait of Italy,” Serra said.

The class has an enrollment limit of 22, and students like its size.

“The class is small, which allows more personal interaction between students and the professor. I especially enjoy the teacher, who always keeps the class interesting,” said public communications senior Matthew Walker, who is minoring in Italian and history.

“Italy is a rich country through its music and culture. Our teacher is constantly playing us music that captures the style and times of Italy. I learned that through all of its ups and downs, Italy has always flourished in the arts, especially music” Walker said.




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