Deciphering Culture


One of the best experiences of my time in graduate school at UCLA was my  tenure as a Teaching Fellow (2003-2004). After returning from fieldwork in Morocco, I wrote a proposal for an undergraduate honors seminar, “Nationalism, Identity and Resistance in African Popular Music,” that was submitted by the Department of Ethnomusicology for consideration for a Collegium of University Teaching Fellows fellowship. My proposal was one of fourteen accepted university-wide. The opportunity to develop and teach my own class was a great learning experience. A great perk of the fellowship was participation in a seminar on pedagogy & teaching technology led by Professor Peter Kollock. For me, the highlight of the class was a guest lecture by Sandra Izidore on her work with Afropop pioneer Fela Kuti during his time in Los Angeles during the 1960s.

In August 2004, my friend poet and teacher Neeli Cherkovski and I discussed my developing a course on ethnographic research for a new MFA in Creative Inquiry program at New College of California (San Francisco). I taught that course during the Fall semester and also worked as a thesis advisor to students in New College’s MA in Humanities & Leadership program. After receiving my Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from UCLA in March 2006, I taught a survey class on the musics of the Western Hemisphere at the University of San Francisco (from January 2007 – January 2008). So as not to have the feel of a bus tour, I organized the course into thematic clusters that examined the same issue in disparate musical traditions (i.e., the section on technology included sessions on the marimba in Central America, fife and drum music throughout the Americas, and the electric guitar in American popular music).

In 2010, I taught a course for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Berkeley entitled “The Neglected History of the West Coast Blues,” fulfilling a desire to more deeply delve into the blues in California. It also allows me to dip back into my research on the nightclub district in North Richmond that was a vital center of Black entertainment from the mid-1940s to the late 1960s. In Spring 2011, I will be continuing my relationship with OLLI by teaching a course on the History of the Blues at Dominican University in San Rafael, California.


Aaron Thibeaux "T-Bone" Walker

“The Neglected History of the West Coast Blues” — Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UC Berkeley (Spring 2010).



Written by Jeffrey Callen

March 30, 2010 at 3:10 pm

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