Community, music, collaboration


Carrie Tovar

An experiment combining classes, across grade levels, schools and campuses, brought together students from leisure studies and music to explore community impact.

Music professor Roger Mantie and Kevin Wilson in the School of Community Resources and Development found a shared interest in research related to leisure and music, and how to integrate the broader community.

Mantie’s music and community engagement class became the driver.

“This was an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the synergy created between two classes in two different schools,” he said.

Wilson offered an alternative final assignment in his leisure and the quality of life class. Fourteen students took up the challenge. Seven graduate students in the music class were each paired with two of Wilson’s undergraduates.

Wilson said that the challenge of “how to bridge the gap on three different levels: graduate and undergraduate students, different locations of the classes, and the combination of music and community” were the very issues that he and Mantie were most excited about. 

Undergraduate student Amanda Arnier was one of the students who chose to participate in Wilson’s alternative final assignment.

“It was something different than what the other students were doing; it was about music and getting involved with the community, and it gave me the chance to interact with students at the Tempe campus,” she said.

Michael Ferraro, a graduate student in the School of Music, was interested in “the engaging blend of assigned readings, guest speakers, musical activities and class discussions.”

The groups created seven community events:

  • A picnic and mini-concert at the Ahwahtukee Community Garden
  • Heritage Hallelujah Event in Queen Creek.
  • Drop-in “Beat Lab” workshop for Girl Scouts at the Musical Instrument Museum
  • Musical Maps event on Grand Avenue
  • Epic Instrument Maker Challenge on Grand Avenue.
  • Instrument making out of recycled materials at New Pathways for Youth Community Centre
  • Interdisciplinary music and art making workshop at the School of Music

“It was definitely challenging to take an idea from its initial conception, and flesh it out in written form, including researching and planning. But in my opinion, this is the type of action and engagement classes should work towards,” Ferraro said.

Tee Tang, a performance major in the School of Music stated, “Although everyone was working on diverse projects, it was exciting to share our different ideas in class and help each other out. The community built through this class is valuable and I hope it will continue to grow.”

Wilson said, “Communication became the most exciting development—how to work with the distances between campuses, and with electronic communication as well as meeting in person. Interests became clearer, and conversations blossomed once the students were able to work together in person.”

Mantie believes that the two classes working in concert “embodied the spirit of what ASU is trying to accomplish. We are creating alliances, becoming socially embedded, and building wonderful applied partnerships.”