Popular Hispanic Music

Finlay Ward (Dual Degree Business Management and Modern Languages and Cultures) has made a short video about how his Spanish Popular Music course puts him behind a drum kit and a camera.

Five students singing behind 3 microphones. One plays a guitar

Learning in a classroom with other students is great, but it gets even better if you get the opportunity to apply your knowledge in a public event with your peers, with your tutor and with professionals. Finlay Ward's short video gives an impression of what engaged learning may look like.

“Popular music movements reflect on and respond to events of political and historical significance”, says Dr Peter Watt, who developed and teaches the module Popular Music in the Hispanic World. At Sheffield we are convinced that engaging in the creative process is a fundamental way to deepen understanding and to strengthen a sense of self-worth and (language) confidence.

“Each week in our lectures, we tackle a different topic that explores the relationship between popular music and the wider world such as how Caribbean music was shaped by the transatlantic slave trade. Or how, in the immigrant city of Buenos Aires, the tango emerged when men started to dance with men due to a shortage of women dance partners. We also look at how dance and music, such as tango in Argentina, bossa nova in Brazil, or mariachi in Mexico, became an integral part of the way these new nations define themselves”.

Finlay Ward plays the drums and talks about his module Popular Hispanic Music

For the practical element of the course students research a piece of music they are interested in. This can be a piece of music or a song they want to perform. Each year Peter Watt is amazed at what the students can do, even those who are not musically trained. Then it is time to record, add appropriate design work, and organise, produce and promote a public performance in a local venue.

Finlay recorded this video during a performance on 7 December 2023 in Cubana's in Sheffield. And this was only the warming up. The full concert will take place in May 2024. To get you in the mood, listen to what students recorded in previous years and watch this space for more information about the 2024 edition.

Buenas Vibras

Four students laughing while sat at a bench, outside the Students' Union

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