Sunday, February 24, 2008

Another "Teaching Company" Course

Not to bore you too much with another commercial, but I must report that Good Witch and I finished Professor Bill Messenger's course on "Great American Music: Broadway Musicals", which was comprised of only 16 45-minute lectures. We loved it.

Most of the course dealt with older American Broadway music, which included minstrel shows, vaudville, the ragtime years, and early Tin Pan Alley. So many of our familiar American songs come from these eras. Then, of course, we learned about the entry of the "big,plot-oriented musicals" with "Showboat" and later, "Oklahoma!". These were followed by such wildly different successes as "The Sound of Music", "West Side Story", "The Music Man", "A Chorus Line", "Miss Saigon", and "The Producers". It appears that just about any subject can be dealt with in a musical. Needless to say, we heard a lot of different music and we enjoyed it a lot while learning much.

We have subsequently started 48 30-minute lectures on "The History of World Literature". The professor, as usual, is excellent. What is dawning on me, however, is how connected this course is to two previous ones that we've completed: "The History of Western Civilization", and "The History of Western Music". Taken together, one can put together the pieces of how we got to where we are now - the good and the bad. I feel far more educated than I was before we came upon these wonderful courses.

To give you a tidbit we learned the other night: the stories of India, going back at least 2,500 years, traveled across the world to show up again and again in "Tales of 1,000 Nights, Canterbury Tales, and Aesop's Fables, to name a few. The world is really a lot smaller than we think, and it has been for a long time.

Tonight's lecture on Japanese poetry of the 7th to 9th centuries gave me new insight as to why my company, which had a Japanese subsidiary, experienced so many issues regarding our two different cultures. The Japanese have always been subtle, indirect and precise, while Americans are pretty much the opposite. Both companies needed to make accomodations in order to work together sucessfully.

Got a little extra time on your hands? Go to and spend a few bucks. It'll be worth your time and money.

No comments: