Welcome to my studio!





Ronda current teaches online courses at the following schools:




Ronda designs all of her course content collaboratively with musicologist Summer Benton Nickerson.  Ms. Nickerson has a Masters of Music in Music History from California State University, Sacramento.  She is a Senior Musicologist with Classical Music Archives  and teaches music courses at multiple colleges and universities.  She is currently writing a book on how the McCarthy hearings during the “Red Scare” affected the lives of well-known musicians.  Ronda and Summer co-own the content of their online courses which include Music Appreciation, Popular Music in America, World Music, Survey of Music History, Jazz History, and History of Musical Theatre.  Scroll down to experience highlights from Ronda's American Popular Music course.



Musicologist Summer Benton Nickerson

Comments from students about Ronda’s online courses:


Every week I walk away with new ideas and new themes of music and humanity to research.  I love this class.  Thank you.
--Sandra Rostetter, Navarro College
I never was big into music so when I decided to take this class I was not expecting it to turn out to be my favorite.
--Crystal Post, Music 1310, Lon Morris College
This has been one of the most enjoyable classes I have ever taken and I like the way you have it structured. I just want to thank you for a great semester. Also I do agree that the Cell Block Tango in "Chicago" is genius.
--Matt Hilts, Music 313, Tarleton University
I never realized how many different styles of Jazz there are!!! I was really surprised, and once again learned more about history than I have in any of my History or Gov or Politics or any of those kinds of classes! 
--Kristin McKeever, Navarro College

Ronda as a Simpson's music teacher.
Created by her daughter, Karen.

Ronda teaching a class at Lon Morris College.














































 Example Course:

 American Popular Music

 Description of Course

An introductory study of popular music in the U.S., emphasizing development and application of analytic skills oriented toward the popular arts. This course for the non-music major which presents a general survey of various styles of music in America.  Upon successful completion of the course students will be familiar with the various styles of music found in American popular culture; will be able to identify key figures in the development of American popular music; will know the social, political, and demographic trends that have shaped American popular music; and will gain a basic understanding of the fundamentals of music.  This course will trace the development of Native American, English, African, and Hispanic music into their current forms: blues, jazz, gospel, Cajun, country, folk, rock ‘n roll, soul, salsa, Tejano, Asian, rap and hip hop. 


Cool Factoids and links from Modules:



Module 1 Topic: Music in Multicultural America

The music of America is diverse and eclectic.  We will be studying the many divergent paths of American music and the influences that shaped them.  Here is a video that shows a multicultural event which celebrates the music of the many cultures that make up the United States.


Module 2 Topic: The Music of Native Americans

 Here is a Sioux Ghost and Buffalo Dance that was recorded by Thomas Edison in 1894.


Module 3 Topic: The Roots of European/Anglo-Amer. Music

Here’s a simple British lullaby which has become very Americanized.  I love this version of Listen to the Mockingbird.


Module 4 Topic: The Roots of African American Music

Here is a marvelous 17 minute PBS video called History Detective: Slave Songbook 


 Module 5 Topic: The Roots of Latin American Music

Mariachi From Smithsonian Global sound (smithsonianglobalsound.org)

"Mariachi is an extroverted form of acoustic music that emerged in several western states of Mexico. Ensembles generally employ at least two violins, two trumpets, a five-string rhythm guitar called the vihuela, a large bass guitar called the guitarrón, and a Spanish guitar". Led by Nati Cano, Los Angeles-based Mariachi Los Camperos is one of the most accomplished modern mariachi bands in the world. 


Module 6 Topic: The Blues

 Go here to read the biography of Blind Lemon Jefferson

Here is Blind Lemon Jefferson’s See That My Grave is Kept Clean 


Module 7 Topic: Jazz

Listen to this amazing performance by The Louis Armstrong 5.  By the time this video was made, blacks and whites were regularly performing together…something that did not happen early on in jazz.  Note the improvised solos and how individual the music is that is created by each player and then put together in ensemble form.

Module 8 Topic: Gospel, Cajun & Zydeco

Here’s a short documentary clip on the group that started as a Jubilee Quartet known as The Soul Stirrers


Here is a really cool clip of Zydeco musician Clifton Chenier.


Module 9 Topic: Country Music

This website on the development of country guitar has an audio clip of Maybelle Carter talking about her picking style known as “Carter Scratch”.  It also has a clip of Maybelle discussing the popularity of the tune “Wildood Flower”:



Module 10 Topic: The Urban Folk Revival

Here are the Almanac Singers with “I Don’t Want Your Millions”.


Module 11 Topic: Rock ‘n’ Roll

Here is a snippet of a documentary about the beginnings of Rock and Roll that really nicely sums up the beginnings. 


Module 12 Topic: Soul, Motown, and Funk

James Brown, “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” is an example of soul music. James Brown was an innovative performer who put on elaborate stage shows. In the 1970’s he helped redefine soul and gospel music in to a new style called funk. This clip gives you sense of his stage shows and also contains the song “I Feel Good,” which will be familiar to you. 


Module 13 Topic: Salsa, Reggae and Caribbean Latino Music; Tejano, Banda, and Contemporary Mexican American Music

Here is an excellent quick lesson on clave rhythm and congo drums.


Module 14 Topic: Asian American Music, Hip-Hop and Rap

Here is the Black Eyed Peas with Bebot (Sometimes called the Filipino song):


In the 80s rap was just “fun”.  This was the first rap song that was ever owned in our house.  My sister bought the album in the early 80s and we listened to it over and over in our “boom box”…..here’s the “John Wayne Rap”.

 Here’s a 1990 video from MTV about female rappers.

Click on the college links at the top of this page to enroll in one of Ronda's courses.




Click here to see a course syllabus.


This course requires the following textbook:


Crossroads: The Multicultural Roots of America’s Popular Music, 2nd edition, by Elizabeth F. Barkley, McGraw Hill.