Reading Alex E. Chávez's Sounds of Crossing: Music, Migration, and the Aural Poetics of Huapango Arribeño (Duke University Press, 2017), a Pedagogical Lesson
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.5070/T33143605
In this article we argue for a slow, methodical, and collaborative approach to difficult texts. This article is the story of how, thanks to the efforts of the students and professor, a book that rewards diligent effort, and some creative pedagogical strategies borne of desperation, the experience of reading Alex E. Chávez’s Sounds of Crossing became a highlight of our college experience. In this article we explore the differing perspectives of students and faculty, including the reasons students came to view this as a meaningful experience. Some of our significant findings include the following: 1) the reading of the book was meaningful even though it was difficult; 2) the meaningfulness of the reading was not diminished by how difficult the theoretical and musical material remained, even with close exegesis; 3) the difficulty was eased by specific pedagogical methods, mainly based on collaborative learning, that were found by the students to be effective for increasing comprehension and navigation of the text; and 4) the connection between the book and the students’ lived experience enhanced the appeal of the text, their willingness to continue with it in spite of difficulty, their tolerance for confusion, and their overall satisfaction with the experience of reading it.