The reason I think this is ground-breaking is that, whereas most MOOCs try to teach math, science, economics, finance, programming, and other math/science topics, this class focuses on the history of music. And not even classical music, but recent music (The Beatles). This was a new experience for me, and one that I do not see a lot of in MOOC catalogs.
I am more of a casual Beatles fan, and this course dove extremely deep into the music, song-by-song. Professor Covach took us through the Beatles career year by year – each year was basically 1 week of the course. Within each week, he then laid the context of what was going on in the world at that time (the environment), what was going on with the Beatles touring and travelling, and focuses on a small number of specific songs each week. I learned more about the AABA lyrical style than I ever thought I would. The course packs a lot of factual information in each week.
It all came together very well. I like how it gave me the opportunity to listen to the Beatles music again, as well as listening to their influences for the first time. I had no idea that the Beatles did so many covers, and that a large amount of their original music actually builds off musical styles that came before. I guess this is how it always works with artists, but it hadn’t been evident to me before.
The videos are well done, if simple. The professor stands in front of a green screen, while a presentation is displayed behind him. But having the text to read from helps me to get the key details out of each section.
I think this course was surprisingly deep and thorough. It could have been easier to just gloss over each album and song, without needing so much detail and back story for each moment in time. But I do appreciate that the professor is very knowledgeable about the topic, and obviously talking about it excites him, so his passion for The Beatles comes through and I’ve certainly come to appreciate the complexity that I didn’t know existed.