Home is a fire

As with his composition, sound and the environment have informed Joshua Groffman’s scholarly work as well. His current project “Home is a Fire” is an ecocritical examination of hearing and sounding nature in New York’s Hudson Valley. His research methodology draws on recent work in ecomusicology, music theory, soundscape ecology, and sound studies to examine overlapping issues of environmental rhetoric, politics, and gentrification both historically and in our current historical moment. In 2020, his research and teaching was supported through a Faculty Lectureship with the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Publications from this project

  • “Hearing nature: approaching environmental communication through music and sound,” (co-authored with Dr. Olusegun Stephen Titus, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria), in ICA Handbook of International Trends in Environmental Communication (Routledge Press, 2022)
  • “Between Soundtrack and Soundscape: Toward an Integrated Hearing of Natural Spaces” (Ecomusicology Review, Fall 2021)
  • “In Truth, the Forest Hears Each Sound: Sounding Nature and Ideology in New York’s Hudson Valley.” Music & Politics 13, no. 2 (2019): 1-31. [view here]
  • “Book review: The Quarry Fox: And Other Critters of the Wild Catskills.” Hudson River Valley Review 35, no. 2 (2019): 80-83. [view here]
  • “Report from the field(s): music of place in the Hudson Valley.” Musica Est Donum 3 (2017).

Selected conference presentations from project:

  • Responses in Music to Climate Change, October 2021. “Where I Come From, Rain is a Good Thing: Country Music, Nature, and Community in New York’s Hudson Valley”
  • American Musicological Society, Boston, MA, October 2019. “Home is a fire: Sounding Nature and Ideology in New York’s Hudson Valley”
  • Conference on Communication and Environment, Vancouver, BC, June 2019. “Home is a fire: soundscapes of the Hudson River in the age of Donald Trump”
  • Global Prehumanisms, University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana, October 2018. “In truth the forest hears each sound: traditions of listening to nature in New York’s Hudson Valley”

Student engagement in the core music theory curriculum

A committed instructor, Groffman has taught music theory, composition, computer music, and interdisciplinary arts seminars at Pitt-Bradford, Sarah Lawrence College, the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He places a particular emphasis on active learning as a technique for creating a more inclusive classroom and has conducted research on encouraging collaboration that allows students of different backgrounds to excel at music in the context of their experience.

He is presently at work on an Open Educational Resource (OER) project to create a set of inquiry materials for use by students in music fundamentals and the core curriculum; his work is supported by a grant from the University of Pittsburgh Provost’s Open Educational Resources development initiative.

Publications from this project

  • Co-authored with Zora M. Wolfe: “Concept Mapping as a Tool for Deeper Understanding in the Diverse Classroom.” Music Educators Journal 106, no. 2 (December 2019): 58-65. [view here]
  • “The Discovery Channel: Using Concepts from Discovery Science to Teach Concepts in Music Theory.” Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy 31 (2017): 19-42 [view here]

Selected conference presentations from project:

  • Pedagogy Into Practice, May 2019, University of California-Santa Barbara. “The social (constructivist) classroom: designing effective groupwork tasks for music theory”
  • Pedagogy Into Practice, June 2017, Lee University. “Sounds and skills vs. notes and drills: rethinking our approach to music fundamentals.”
  • College Music Society Northwest, Vancouver, BC, April 2017. “A guided inquiry approach to the music theory curriculum.”