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Marketing through song: BGSU Marketing professor Gregory Rich delivers lectures through song


Gregory Rich, marketing professor and musician.

How does someone write catchy song lyrics about marketing principles, such as macro environments? While online learning is not always easy for students, some professors, like BGSU marketing professor Gregory Rich have found a unique way to make it more engaging.

“It’s one of the weirder things you are going to see today, I apologize,” he said in his lecture video as he began to strum his acoustic guitar and started to sing about the production era of Ford’s Model T.

Rich, originally from Berne, Indiana, and a graduate from Indiana University, has been teaching at BGSU for 26 years. He began playing the guitar when he was a college sophomore and has continued to play. He also occasionally plays with a band that covers John Prine songs.

“I don’t really consider myself a musician. I just kind of picked it up and learned a little bit, but I’ve been doing it for a lot of years now. I took a few lessons here and there but for the most part, I’m self-taught,” he said.

This semester is the first time he has written a song for every chapter of his online class. Being the first time, he says he is unsure of the impact his songs are having on his students.

“I don’t know if it helps or not. All the feedback I’ve gotten has been positive so I’m hopeful that it’s a good thing. You know, I’ll get the course evaluations at the end of the semester and if I’m brave enough, I’ll read them. I’ll tell you right now I’ll be a bit scared to read those,” he said.

Although he doesn’t consider himself a musician and is unsure if his songs are having a positive impact, many of his students enjoy hearing his songs each week. Megan Rowe,  a junior public relations student, is taking Rich’s online class this semester and feels the songs make a difference in her learning experience. 

“Professor Rich’s songs are awesome and make the class a lot more engaging. I have trouble sitting and staying engaged while watching online lectures, but the songs are a fun moment in class that helps with that,” she said.

In past years, he typically sang once to the class each semester. With learning moving online the past few semesters, he saw an opportunity to write more songs for his classes, especially this semester.

“I started thinking that online courses get a bad rap for being boring and students are not that engaged, so I’m just trying to spice it up and do something different,” he said.

Rich writes a song about the marketing concept covered in each textbook chapter. He comes up with catchy phrases to help his students remember the important material.

“Within the strategic planning process, the Microenvironment should be assessed, and if that is something you don’t know about, I’m hoping this song helps you figure it out, I’m hoping this song helps you figure it out,” he sang these lyrics while he strummed his guitar in his second video lecture to the class.

He often takes complicated words or concepts and creates a song from them. Not many people would be able to use words like microenvironment, regulations or strategic planning process in a song that makes sense and rhymes. Taking lengthy and complex words and turning them into a catchy song does not seem easy, but he says he enjoys the challenge.

“What has really interested me and kept me into it is that I enjoy the challenge of writing songs, so I’ve been doing that almost since the beginning,” he said.

Rich says he tries to encourage creativity in his class. He leads by example in songwriting and singing to his students, but also encourages their creativity through the work he assigns to them in homework and in other areas.

He is married to Linda Rich, who also works at BGSU as the Reference Services Coordinator at the Jerome Library. She says she has always enjoyed her husband’s music and believes that he is brave for singing his songs to his students.

“I’ve been hearing him write songs and sing in our house for forever. I think it’s interesting he’s brave enough to do this for a class. I think it’s great and makes it more fun for him and hopefully for the student,” she said.

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