Boyle on Music Appreciation: ‘Let’s Roll Up Our Sleeves and Get to Work’
By Britton Summers
Do you enjoy music? Do you want to increase your appreciation for music?
Well, don’t worry, Oklahoma City Community College has classes where students can indulge their love for music, as well as expand their appreciation for music.
Michael T. Boyle teaches multiple music classes at OCCC, including Music Literature I & II, Music Appreciation, Intro to World Music, Applied Bass, and Jazz Ensemble I & II.
Boyle said he has been around music and enjoying it his whole life.
“My earliest memories are of the stuff my parents were playing on the record player. My mom played show tunes- Oklahoma!, West Side Story, etc, and my dad was a Beatles fan. I still spin his 1967 copy of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” Boyle said.
Boyle started teaching at OCCC in 2006, after moving from Illinois to Oklahoma City in order to take the job as Music Program Coordinator.
Boyle also plays in bands, as well as performing solo concerts around the OKC area. In December 2021, he played a run of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet, playing four nutcrackers in three days.
“I have performed all over America and Europe. I played at Carnegie Hall in 1978, and we made a record of that show,” he said.
Right now, he is teaching Music Appreciation and Jazz Ensemble, with Jazz Ensemble being his personal favorite to teach. He enjoys watching the students’ progress over two years and performing on stage.
Boyle also noted that he doesn’t know what his students’ favorite classes are. But he said that Music Appreciation was very popular, with this academic year offering about 25 sections.
“One of my favorite sayings is ‘we hold our assessments in public.’ In English Composition, only the professor and the student (in most cases) are aware of the quality (or not) of the assignment. In a performance class, we play a concert, and we record it. Everyone knows if and when you played a wrong note,” Boyle said.
In his humanities Music Appreciation class, Boyle wants his students to remember some of the big names like Mozart, Beethoven and Stravinsky to understand how the music was affected by the world around those musicians. His desire is for students to learn how art is a reflection and a reaction to the human condition.
Boyle thinks it’s pretty cool to show how similar the music of today is to the music of 400 years ago, with similar topics being covered in music such as love, music for dance and worship music.
Boyle noted that in his music classes, students learn that there’s a lot more to music than the notes, including a lot of critical thinking. In particular, for a band like the Jazz Ensemble, there’s a ton of planning, group work, repetition and interpersonal communications.
“Trust me, being in a band, y’all gotta get along. Just ask Fleetwood Mac,” Boyle said.
Boyle then said music careers requiring a degree or certification will need further education at a four year school, with the most predictable careers for musicians being in music education and music therapy, which both require a Bachelor’s degree and state certification.
Performance careers require no degree, and are increasingly difficult to make a decent living wage, which is Boyle’s optimistic and hyper polite way of saying that anyone with a laptop can be a music producer.
“As always, the music students that are the most driven, that practice the most, that excel at their chosen instrument, that have the ability to self-criticize (because others will criticize, you better ‘practice that stuff on yourself’), and that cannot imagine and career in anything else other than music will succeed. (I tell them) you are in the right place. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work,” Boyle said.