Three Questions with Thomas Labé
Three Questions is an initiative to share the value that our faculty, students, and others in the UNT community derive from using the Unique Collections at UNT Libraries.
How important are Unique Collections in your teaching, learning or research?
I have almost been living in the Willis Music Library at the University of North Texas every Saturday for the past two years while working on my openly-licensed music appreciation textbook. When it is completed this spring it will consist of a fully searchable, printable online page-flipping textbook which is completely integrated with a responsive website and an online multimedia pronouncing lexicon. All materials will be available for use in the classroom, on any computer or portable device, for hybrid and online instruction and available for student access 24/7. The textbook itself runs to almost 5,000 pages and combined with the website there are over 2,000 high definition images, graphics and links to hundreds of video and audio files. Because it is openly-licensed it will be absolutely free for instructors and students to use worldwide.
How have Unique Collections changed the way you approach your research, teaching or learning?
I build dedicated responsive websites for all the courses that I teach. I also require my students to go paperless and learn basic graphics and website coding skills. All that said, I believe strongly in the power of print and/or print available as electronic resources. The most reliable information is still published in print form, issued by reputable publishing houses and which have gone through rigorous scholarly and editorial review. There is also something unique about walking through library stacks: you can discover things that no internet search will ever uncover. At times I have been at the Willis Music Library and been overwhelmed at how much literature has been written about music, more literature I believe than on any other human endeavor.
What do you want others to know about your research, teaching or learning?
Music appreciation is the most unique general education course on a college campus because every single student entering the class has already developed an intense relationship with the subject, music. You simply cannot say that about any other course on a college campus. So for me it is all about meeting the students in their individual relationship with music and working to expand horizons. I am hoping that my textbook/website complex will help in expanding those horizons.
Thomas Labé enjoys a multifaceted career as a pianist, recording artist, published scholar and educator. Performing, teaching and presenting have taken him to all seven continents. A prize winner in numerous international piano competitions, his Carnegie Hall debut in 1987 was singled out by The New York Times as the “most interesting among the weeks’ debutants.” His first solo piano recording, The Virtuoso Johann Strauss, received a “Best of the Year” citation. He has been at the forefront of bringing his passion for music to the classroom, the hybrid and the online learning environments in the most vital and effective ways possible. He has given presentations on the creative use of technology for teaching at several eLearning conferences ranging from Oklahoma to Hong Kong. He is currently Professor of Music (piano) at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma.