Reviews of The Contemporary Music Course.

The Contemporary Music Course written & produced by Clive Cockburn

Online delivery of theory courses seems to be the way of the future. Music educators need to look carefully at all which is on offer in the cyberworld. One such product is “The Contemporary Music Course” from New Zealand-based composer, Clive Cockburn (former guitarist with the rock band, The Avengers).

This is a comprehensive online course for beginners through to advanced level students, song-writers and arrangers. It contains 120 lessons (all delivered via online video) covering the language of music, chords and harmony, instrument voicings, two-part counterpoint and writing for drums and guitar.

From the opening introduction, the presenter makes the whole process sound incredibly easy. The beauty of such a delivery is that students can view the instruction video time and time again, replaying concepts that need greater consolidation. Own pace tuition is a real bonus for students.

It is multi-level and sequential, easy to navigate and visually appealing. As one moves through the course, the concepts naturally become more challenging, until very advanced concepts of jazz harmony (11th and 13th chords) are reached.

This is a great resource for any studio teacher or classroom teacher. It will add a dynamic element to your teaching and ensure students are highly engaged with what for many can be otherwise very dry.

At $99.00 for a year's unlimited access, it is a resource I would highly recommend.

Barry Walmsley - KSJ, MMus, BEd, DSCM, AMusA, ATCL, LTCL, MACE, MACEL, FAIM, Hon TCL

Music educator, lecturer, arts journalist, music critic, pianist, vocal coach, conductor, adjudicator and administrator.

Director of Music at The King's School, Sydney and retired Vice-President of the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW.

Reproduced with permission from MTA NSW ‘The Studio’ Vol17 No1 Feb 2011

The Contemporary Music Course, by Clive Cockburn. 2013.

The Contemporary Music Course is a comprehensive collection of concise and focused music theory principles. Cockburn presents short video clips to introduce concepts that may be new or needed as review lessons.

The first of two categories, "The Language of Music" take students very efficiently through basic note reading, scales and rhythmic information. Worksheets are available in PDF form for printouts with answers given separately.

Lessons on sight-singing are valuable ear training tools for students who would like to learn to play by ear. In the classroom these lessons aid in promoting audiation. Sight-reading lessons are simple pattern reading, which Cockburn relates back to the sight-singing examples. "The Language of Music" part 2 concludes with introductions to relative minor scales, swing rhythms and sixteenth notes.

Beyond those two sections the lessons are more directed toward chord structures, harmonic progressions and their use in additional styles such as country and rock. Even the most elementary budding composer could gain from the "putting music to words" and "putting words to music" exercises. Lessons on using software and using sequencing tools go beyond basic composition instruction to give students access to a finished product. For those teens who have a bona fide garage band there are lessons on writing for drums and guitar as well.

One of the accolades on the home page states: "I think your website is awesome. It really gives you the feeling of being in a music school." said Valerie Crawford, a student in the United States). Given the competition to enter college with a solid musical skill set, this website would be analogous to giving a student materials for SAT test review.

This website could be viewed as a bridge between the technology world with its iPads and the like, and the organic world of pencil and paper. Independent teachers who shy away from technology can appreciate the videos as springboards to conversation with their students to expand on a given topic. Classroom teachers with Smart-board or video connectivity from a desktop, can capture students' attention, distribute worksheets and enhance lesson plans. While teachers may not find they can use every lesson contained here, there is definitely something for everyone, both teacher and student.

Reviewed by Kathleen Maskel, NCTM, Regis College

Finding The Contemporary Music Course was a blessing for us. Our fourth child, the self-taught pianist, had expressed a desire to continue learning more and wanted to compose her own pieces. This program gave her the foundation to be able to do exactly that. The Contemporary Music course has hours of video lessons walking individuals through music theory and composition. The program is online and subscription-based so a student can go as slow or as fast as desired.

Lifetime subscriptions are available for individuals and annual subscriptions are available to music teachers with groups of students participating.

The website breaks down the lessons into different modules including The Language of Music I and II, Chords and Harmony I and II, Drums and Guitar, Orchestral Harmony, Two Part Harmony and Counterpart, and Rock Musicians: Session Project. Clive Cockburn, a well-versed musician, song writer and composer in the film and television industry, breaks down each step of musical progression. Video lessons are short and concise and there are worksheets included for some of the lessons enabling the student to put the lessons into practice. Both novices and more advanced students can appreciate the detail in his lessons. Our daughter celebrated every time Mr. Cockburn broke something down or presented an old concept in a new way for her, helping her to have a greater understanding of music. She has dabbled in each of the modules but has focused her serious practice on the first module, of which she has almost completed.

She is thrilled with The Contemporary Music Course, as we all are, and I anticipate us getting a lot of use out of this program for years to come!

Product review by Nancy Mayes, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July, 2018

I think that this website is a very useful resource for Music teachers and supports the secondary Music – Sound Arts curriculum.

The explanations are clear and sequential, the examples are from a variety of popular and contemporary music pieces. I can also see the value of senior music students subscribing themselves to The Writing Musician to help their preparation for the Music Materials and Analysis external exams, or for composition and arrangement tasks.

Shane Morrow - Arts Online Community Facilitator