Eric Simonson

Eric Simonson

Dr. Eric Simonson
Professor, Music/Liberal Arts

Office: CT201
Phone: 217-443-8728

Courses Taught:
Music Appreciation (MUSI 115)
Online Music Appreciation (MUSI 115W)
Introduction to American Music (MUSI 120)
Music History I and II (MUSI 124 and 125)
Non-Western Music (MUSI 126)
Rudiments of Music (MUSI 100)
History of Rock and Roll (MUSI 122)
College Singers (MUSI 152)
Introduction to Electronic/Computer Music (MUSI 123)
Pep Band (MUSI 153)

Dr. Eric Simonson, Music Professor

Educational Background
Ph.D Composition, University of California, San Diego, June 1999
MM Composition, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, August 1990
BM Composition, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK, May 1987

Teaching Philosophy
In regards to my teaching philosophy, I wish to cite to examples of teachers who've left indelible impressions and influences on me. One was my first piano teacher. His pattern of consistent dedication to excellence through systematic learning is something whose spirit I will ever try to manifest, though his specific methods I may have modified, extended, or even abandoned since that time. I remain committed to repetition and review--not dryly but enthusiastically, even humorously deployed--as necessary components in the advance of education. I want those in my class to have more than an intuitive sense of things (something that multiple-choice testing, for example, might adequately assess); rather, through copious examples or instances of application of given principles or concepts it is my goal that theirs be a firm grasp of things, an experienced learning.

While a graduate student at Indiana University I had the privilege of working as a teaching assistant (or "associate instructor," as they were called there) under Mary Wennerstrom, one of the leading voices in music theory pedagogy. What particularly struck me about her ways was not only her fluency and conservatism (for the sake of leaving some things for later--a kind of 'pedagogical timing') balanced with enthusiasm and adaptability (since some questions are not always anticipated), but her uncanny ability to give personal attention to and "know" each individual in a class of over 100 students from all over the world who had come to study at one of the largest schools of music in the world. Partly for that reason, I am not intimidated by numbers or diversity; I am only stimulated by it. What an enriching experience it was for me to teach in an area (Southern California) marked by such cultural ethnic diversity, and to teach those who are going into various non-music disciplines to boot! Also is has been quite rewarding to be a part of a liberal arts program at a community college (here in East Central Illinois) committed to egalitarian education. I've been able to get to know some wonderful people and, I feel, share something with them that cannot be measured according to the ways of the marketplace; indeed, it is something much closer to and essential to the human spirit.

Since coming to Danville Area Community College I have increased the number of course offerings so that students would have a greater breadth of experience with music, even as non-majors and non-musicians. Music is a vital part of history, culture, and spirituality. There is even such a thing as "musical thinking," I believe. And if students at DACC are to have a complete liberal arts education, they need more than just a few weeks devoted to it as part of a general humanities survey.

To that end, I developed Music 121 (Ethnic Traditions in American Music), Music 122 (History of Rock and Roll), Music 123 (Introduction to Electronic Music), Music 124 (Music History I-which covers Western musical history from medieval times to the time of Bach), Music 125 (Music History II-which covers Western musical history from 1750 to the present day), and Music 126 (Non-Western Music-which explores other world musical traditions). Two other initiatives that I realized were Music 152 (College Singers) and Music 115W (Music Appreciation Online). All of these classes have had impressive enrollments and, with the exception of Music 121 and 152, are still being offered.

I am a firm believer in the notion of learning through experimentation and creating. If I had to choose between teaching a student about Beethoven or about a sonata by Beethoven or how to play a Beethoven sonata on the piano or how to make a piece of his own, something original, and how to perform it in front of his peers, I'd definitely choose the last thing in the list, as much as I admire Beethoven and his music. It's when one tries to create something original that he engages the most critical thought and, in the process, learns the most about his world and himself. This, in sum, is where I stand in regards to teaching and learning.

Information is more accessible now than ever. It can be downloaded. A human being can't, because a human's will and commitment are involved. My will is always to strive to be a teacher with passion and enthusiasm for imparting understanding. No matter how many times I have approached the same subject, I have always encountered something new about it myself. And when I see the change in countenance in my students when they begin understanding something that I've taken for granted, it makes even what's "old" precious again. Technology is at our disposal to speed up and make more efficient this learning process. I am a champion of its deployment. But the foundation of effective teaching rests on such things as repetition and review, taking an appropriate personal interest in students (regardless of the class size), and ardor on the part of the teacher for things both old and new.

Personal Information:
Dr. Simonson received his Ph.D. from the University of California-San Diego in 1999. His degrees are in music composition, but his interests and teaching experience include computer music, music theory and musicology. He studied composition with Harvey Sollberger at Indiana University and Roger Reynolds at UC-San Diego. Currently, Mr. Simonson teaches music and humanities courses at Danville Area Community College in East Central Illinois. He was awarded the Dorothy Duley endowed chair in liberal arts for 2004-05 in recognition of his accomplishments as an educator. His ongoing music composition project (entitled Geometries) is a group of chamber pieces that incorporate electroacoustic and computer generated sounds. Simonson is also a pianist and conductor.