Nothing Ordinary About It: The Mass Proper as Early Music Jigsaw Puzzle
The Mass Proper too often plays a subsidiary role to the Mass Ordinary in the music history classroom, a consequence of the Proper’s virtual absence in contemporary Roman Catholic worship and its elusiveness within historical liturgical practice. A detailed treatment of music written for the Proper may nevertheless enrich the undergraduate music history survey, particularly the segments covering the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. This article explains how the Jigsaw Classroom, a cooperative learning technique developed by social psychologists, can provide teachers with a creative and practical strategy for incorporating this repertory into the survey. Jigsaw exercises are especially effective for the stylistic analysis of plainchant Propers and of later settings found in Henricus Isaac’s Choralis Constantinus. Finally, this article offers further suggestions for carrying a detailed treatment of the Mass Proper into later sections of the undergraduate survey, as well as for incorporating jigsaw exercises into other classroom contexts.