Germany’s Baroque-style palaces, prominent town squares and forested hills provided a breathtaking backdrop for UNC Pembroke professor Aaron Vandermeer’s jazz history lectures over the summer.
Vandermeer served as a guest lecturer during an intense, one-week stay at Ludwidgsburg University of Education. He returned to UNCP eager to share his experience with his students and fellow music department colleagues.
“Teaching abroad afforded me a better sense of the impact of American music on a global scale. It reinforced the idea that music is one of America’s most powerful exports. We have provided a soundtrack that is very impactful across the world since the dawn of the recording age,” Vandermeer said.
Ludwigsburg University of Education is comparable in student enrollment to UNCP, located in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Focusing on the educational sciences, this university trains teachers in pre-school through adult education as well as the arts and culture.
Though he taught at a German university, the majority of his students lived elsewhere, including Serbia and Bulgaria. To his surprise, the students were well versed in jazz, reciting music of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Charlie Parker.
“They were very interested in music history,” said Vandermeer, who serves as music department chair. “They asked a lot of great questions. They all liked different types of jazz music. They mostly liked swing music from the World War II era. It was interesting guiding them through the many styles in jazz. They would bring me different types of music from European musicians. It was a real pleasure to teach them.”
UNCP’s Office of Global Engagement encourages faculty to teach abroad through programs such as the Magellan Exchange, Fulbright Fellowship and other foreign university partners.