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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Music and Social Action by Yale University

168 ratings

About the Course

What is a musician’s response to the condition of the world? Do musicians have an obligation and an opportunity to serve the needs of the world with their musicianship? At a time of crisis for the classical music profession, with a changing commercial landscape, a shrinking audience base, and a contraction in the number of professional orchestras, how does a young musician construct a career today? Are we looking at a dying art form or a moment of reinvigoration? In this course we will develop a response to these questions, and we will explore the notion that the classical musician, the artist, is an important public figure with a critical role to play in society. The course will include inquiry into a set of ideas in philosophy of aesthetics; a discussion about freedom, civil society, and ways that art can play a role in readying people for democracy; discussion on philosophy of education as it relates to the question of positive social change; and an exploration of musical and artistic initiatives that have been particularly focused on a positive social impact. Guiding questions for this course inquiry will include: - How can classical music effect social change? - How has music made positive change in communities around the globe? - What can the field of classical music learn from other movements for social change? - How have educators and philosophers thought about the arts and their connection to daily contemporary life? Each class will explore one critical question through lectures, discussions, interviews, or documentaries....

Top reviews


Mar 14, 2018

This is exactly what I needed. I have upgraded from just having a passion for music to having a passion for what music can do to the society. I am a better leader. Thank you YALE, thank you Coursera!


Jun 29, 2020

Very insightful course on music (not that much on specifically music, rather broadly all branches of art) can be used in practice of social action. Compelling professor.

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1 - 25 of 61 Reviews for Music and Social Action

By Klaus D P

May 4, 2017

The Course was very interesting to me. I have learned a lot particularly about the roots of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, which was not so clear to me.

"Harlem Nocturne" was a very interesting reading to me that tells the amazing story of three black woman artists in the 1940s and their impact on the American Civil Rights Movement by Black Power: young, gifted and black (Nina Simone).

"Art as Experience" by John Dewey is a very inspiring standard oeuvre about the function of art in a modern society. Art and culture are essential to the development of a peaceful way of living together based on respect and mutual understanding for each other within a society and more than that; this must be seen and explicitly recognized by politicians and politicians (John F. Kennedy).

The only thing that should be considered in the future is the extensive use of peer-graded-assignments as element in the weekly course reviews. This is critical to me because the participation in the weekly discussion forums was very limited.

Nevertheless, the course participation was all in all a pretty good learning experience.

By Education J

May 3, 2016

there wasn't' much classroom discussion lead by staff/or mentors. having more then two people peer-review would be ideal. readings were not easily accessible.

By Eric M

Aug 4, 2016

Aside from a new interesting ideas (from a JFK speech and John Dewey), I found this course to be stretched pretty thin; I think this class would have been effective as a 2 or 3 week course instead of 9 weeks. Also, it was unclear why the focus was on CLASSICAL music, since so many examples come from other artforms (e.g., Ai Wei Wei) and I'm sure the discussions would be richer if they considered popular music as well.


Mar 29, 2017

It is helpful for understanding a plenty of cultural background ideas and movements, and very important to review classmate's work and feedback.That was quite practical in answering quiz and questions.In order to restore the continuity of artistic work, the ones must seek to equip up knowledge and engaged to the practice and present issues with philosopher's concepts for some improvement,even just for a daily life basics.Homework quickens the course time and lessons,and it reminds me working with urging for greater prospective in problematic issues.

By Elena A

Aug 5, 2020

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Sebastian Ruth for this beautiful MOOC, the passion he has delivered in every single step of the online learning, giving me the invaluable opportunity of accessing such deep knowledge while enjoying the whole length of my studies. This MOOC has enriched both my personal existence and my professional skills. I hope I'll be able to take these studies at Ph Degree level very soon, meanwhile THANK YOU very much indeed for this awesome experience (at times of Covid19)

Elena Arzani (

By Farid H

Jan 13, 2017

This course starts from the abstracts of aesthetics and makes its way into the real world applications of art as a tool to further social goals. It provided a broad look into the motivation of artists and also the craft they engage in. Assignments are well designed to make us relate our lived experience with the course content. I loved every minute of it

By Barbara K A

Aug 28, 2017

I enjoyed this course and learned a great deal about music and social action. I was impressed with the professor's knowledge and enjoyed the videos he showed and discussed. All in all a really good course! I would like to see this professor give a course on how the instruments of an orchestra come together for different pieces of music.

By Sebastian J K

Jul 19, 2021

I thoroughly enjoyed participating on this course. It was really interesting and thought provoking. It is something that is not taught in Music Conservatories here, and it would be a good thing for them to consider. Music is too elitist in classical fields. Following this course makes me think differently, so thank you for that.

By Robert J B E

Oct 12, 2018

I liked the goal of this course. The delivery is perfect and it's quite humbling in its entirety. A good course to take for any musician. Do not be discouraged by the amount of philosophers which You have to quote; Though not always altruistic; Their opinions are relevant and even pessimistically directed well le attol

By Kimberlynn K

Jun 19, 2020

This course helped me clarify and advance my thinking, providing me with a theoretical grounding of music and social action. I look forward to building on this grounding and finding new ways to use music in my community for further social action - the opportunities abound in 2020! Thank you, Sebastian!

By Marie A

Jul 24, 2018

Very inspirational, in-depth and well built. Highly reccomended! Being a dancer and choreographer, I could related all material and ideas of the course to my art form (and other art forms too), so it is safe to say that this course will not only inspire musicians but is suitable for other artists too.

By Virgilio A R A

Apr 4, 2017

It is a course at first somewhat complex, but then the ideas of great thinkers and participants of social action are unfolding through culture and music. The course is very complete and the way the teacher teaches is very wise. Very practical and useful for our social exercises. Thank you.

By Nikoletta P

Jul 7, 2017

A highly recommended course for humanity!!! High level of instruction in a way that everything that you think and write (for assignments) is always important. The readings will help you further understand yourself as a human and realize your role into your society. Thank you!!!

By effi m

Aug 19, 2020

Excellently sturctured, expertly delivered, catering for the beginner and the experienced learner. I had agreat time viewing the videos, exploring the reading list, interacting with peers, and writing assignments. Thank you Yale and thank YOU Sebastian Roth!!!

By Gillian S

Apr 16, 2016

Very interesting and informative for anyone interested in music as a vehicle for social justice. Provides the theoretical and academic background that is often missing from many peoples experiences with "music for social justice" programming.

By Jacqueline S

May 8, 2020

Music and Social Action was a great experience where I learned a more defined appreciation of music and culture. I am definitely a fan of Sebastian Ruth as a Professor and I can't wait to take another course focused on Music!

By ana m m m

Oct 28, 2020

Fue una gran experiencia. Por toda la información que han dado. Estoy muy agradecido al Profesor Sebastian Ruth. Espero que sepa que fue un honor haber disfrutado sus clases. Saludos.

Ana Mary Mora Machado. Uruguay.

By Jahmar R

Sep 14, 2020

This course was amazing. I was able to come and think of music in a different way and thanks to experiences in my life, come to understand what some of the artist and authors were saying within their books.

By Douglas O

Mar 15, 2018

This is exactly what I needed. I have upgraded from just having a passion for music to having a passion for what music can do to the society. I am a better leader. Thank you YALE, thank you Coursera!

By Linda t B

Aug 19, 2016

An intresting combination of philosophy, music (and arts) and their relation to social events. Sebastian Ruth found good examples to clarify the subjects, and he gives the lectures on a pleasant way.

By Jean P G C

Jul 30, 2020

Excelente curso. Los contenidos son pertinentes en estos momentos donde más se confunden los intereses económicos y sociopolíticos detrás del financiamiento de la cultura y las artes.

By Prompiriya P

Jun 30, 2020

Very insightful course on music (not that much on specifically music, rather broadly all branches of art) can be used in practice of social action. Compelling professor.

By Henryandra O d C

Jul 16, 2020

It's an amazing course!

If you really wanna improve your knowledge as Musicians or Artists and power's action in your community, you need to enroll in this course.

By Lisa P

Jun 2, 2020

This course was so informative and insightful. I have thoroughly enjoyed the lectures and the readings and look forward to doing further research on the subject.

By Spencer W

May 22, 2020

The information I learned in this course was incredibly relevant. I hate that the course had to end. Anyone friendly to the arts should take this course.