Using Special Collections for Teaching Music Undergraduates

Studying Music at University is a core module for all first-year Arts-Music students at University College Cork. The module is a study skills and writing course that introduces the various disciplines of music, and covers the history of the subject in third-level education. This year, the students will work in small groups to create public websites, podcasts or vodcasts. I have built in revision of drafts (as well as peer review and peer editing) into the assessment process, so the students will practice writing, evaluating, and revising. I’ve arranged sessions on creating websites with Claire Fennell and Dr Sarah Thelan (Instructional Design), on making podcasts or vodcasts with John Hough (Music), on professional and entrepreneurship skills with Peter Finnegan and Trish Gibbons (Blackstone LaunchPad), and on library and search skills with the subject librarian, Claire O’Brien. Helping students to learn to critically evaluate sources and communicate their evidence-based findings in a clear manner feels more important than ever.

What has me really excited this year is that students will be using primary sources available in UCC Boole Library’s Special Collections and Archives. Elaine Harrington and Emma Horgan found a range of materials, including mentions of music in George Boole’s correspondence, in the UCC Record (a publication covering the early years of the university), as well as printed music (including music by Annie Patterson), and autograph music manuscripts by Seán Ó Riada and Arnold Bax. There’s also the Henebry wax cylinder collection which was recently digitized.

I’m very grateful to Dr Jill Rogers for alerting me to Elaine Harrington’s enthusiasm for bringing students in to the archives. When I began lecturing at UCC in 2005, I was informed there were no music-related holdings in Special Collections or Archives available for use by music students. Several collections were catalogued and made available while I was away on my fellowship (2011-14) but until I contacted Elaine Harrington and Emma Horgan, I had no idea of the extent of our holdings.

Elaine’s interview with Shush! Sounds From UCC Library explains more about Special Collections and the ways she collaborates with UCC academics to bring undergraduate and postgraduate studies in to the reading rooms.

1 thought on “Using Special Collections for Teaching Music Undergraduates

  1. Hi Melanie! Thanks for the really great blog post about how students are using all the resources based in the library and especially Special Collections & Archives. Elaine

Comments are closed.