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Learner Reviews & Feedback for History of Rock, Part One by University of Rochester

1,135 ratings

About the Course

This course, part 1 of a 2-course sequence, examines the history of rock, primarily as it unfolded in the United States, from the days before rock (pre-1955) to the end of the 1960s. This course covers the music of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Phil Spector, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and many more artists, with an emphasis both on cultural context and on the music itself. We will also explore how developments in the music business and in technology helped shape the ways in which styles developed. Rock emerged in the mid 1950s as a blending of mainstream pop, rhythm and blues, and country and western--styles that previously had remained relatively separate. This new style became the music of the emerging youth culture and was often associated with teen rebellion. We will follow the story of how this rowdy first wave of rock and roll (1955-59) was tamed in the early 60s but came roaring back with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and then went psychedelic by the end of the decade....

Top reviews


Oct 1, 2016

This course has really helped to fill out my piecemeal understanding of the development of rock music. The pace and content of learning has been well considered and Prof Covach is to be congratulated.


Mar 12, 2018

Provided insight into what I was listening to as a pre-teen. I didn't have the exposure to some of the older roots or the an understanding of the business forces that shaped the music I had access to.

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By Denise M

Dec 3, 2017

This course is a great overview of modern rock music. I think it is greatly enhanced by using the text which is a nice reference to have on its own. One thing that really needs to be improved are the written transcripts for the videos. Sometimes I preferred reading the transcript as opposed to listening to the video but I found that the transcripts were at times very garbled, inaccurate to what was actually being discussed by Professor Covach (names, places, etc.), and need general editing for grammar. I know that transcription has probably been done on a very basic volunteer basis but it should be reviewed again in comparison to the actual video discussion because frequently, the two media are not aligned.

By Jan-Willem J

Aug 27, 2015

This is a great course that is very informative. It brought many performers to my attention that I had not heard of before or that I had not appreciated before and has enriched my appreciation of music. The course focuses mainly on the history and development of rock music, rather than the technical side of the music itself. It is a pity that the course itself only discusses the music, but does not feature the music itself. I suggest that you keep a streaming service, such as Spotify or Deezer, open in a separate window on your browser, so you can pause the lectures and listen to the music as you go along.

By Debra M

Sep 4, 2021

The quiz questions could use some work; many are based on obscure details rather than conceptual learning. The professor seemed genuine and was very informative. His love for music showed through his presentation of information. If any criticism could be offered on delivery, it would be to have the professor SLOW DOWN his delivery a bit. He "gets going" and goes faster and faster. Overall, I'd recommend this course to anyone who might be interested in American rock history, the British Invasion, and Psychedelia.

By Jim D

May 15, 2023

I have taught a college level course on American pop music and I like john's style and what he covers. We emphasize many of the same things. I've taken his Beatles, Rolling Stones and Rock History Part 2 courses. I am surprised that the Fair Use doctrine doesn't allow even a few seconds of music. Another Coursera course on the Genesis of Rock and Roll included many 10-15 second clips, even of copyrighted material.

By Marcelo F

Jul 9, 2020

Until what I have seen today it is a great course. However it is in many ways "too american". It should be rebranded History of American Rock. Despite that, it is very informative and have quite a good insights of what has been happening in America at the time and how Americans perceived themselves their culture and the British Invasion. Congrats. To this extend I am loving it!.

By Angelina W

Feb 4, 2016

Excellent general course about the history of Rock in the Western World. Lots of names of musicians, companies, and music make the course seem to revolve around memorization. Even so, the professor does describe the historical element in logical chains of events and biographies.

The quizzes could have been offered every week. There's no need to clump the quiz material.