Classes for the masses

Jenna Gerling

School of Music offers variety for non-music majors

Students who aren’t majoring or minoring in music still have the opportunity to take voice lessons, study the history of jazz or learn how to play a guitar for class credit.

Andrew Shahriari, assistant professor of music, has taught Music as a World Phenomenon more than 12 times, and is returning in the spring.

“This semester I have about 130 to 135 students that are non-music majors; I think there’s only one music major (out of the 135 students),” Shahriari said.

Although Music as a World Phenomenon is commonly taken by non-music majors, Shahriari said there are additional classes non-music majors should check out.

“Certainly all of the music classes are intended so that you can make music a part of your life; whether it’s just listening, like you would do in the History of Jazz, or whether it’s actually playing the guitar or playing the piano.”

In Music as a World Phenomenon, Shahriari wants to help his students by teaching them about culture.

“I try to give students a sense of how these other cultures think, also give a sense of what we think about them,” he said. “We talk about music in great detail, and I try to give them a sense of how to listen to it more deeply – what the meaning of that music is to a certain culture.

“In studying other people we’re also learning about ourselves – how we are viewed around the world,” he said.

Non-music majors can decide between two different liberal education requirements: Understanding Music and Music as a World Phenomenon.

“(Music as a World Phenomenon) has about 15 sections of it, and they’re all pretty full – 40 to 45 people in each,” he said. “I think the main reason is because it fills two requirements: diversity and fine arts, and Understanding Music doesn’t have the diversity fulfillment.”

Even though the 15 sections of the course are basically full, students currently in Music as a World Phenomenon said they benefited from the class beyond fulfilling the course requirements.

“It opened my eyes to different customs and different things I didn’t know about,” said Amy Wohlwend, freshman early childhood education major. “I learned about the influence that music has on different cultures and people.

“It’s actually one of my favorite classes because it’s more interesting, it’s interactive and it helps you broaden what you know and open your eyes to different things . It’s a nice break during the day to have a fun class,” she said.

Dave George, junior electronic media productions major, said he had different reasons for enjoying the music class.

“I wanted to learn about different types of music and culture,” he said. “Understanding what people (from different cultures) listen to (and) how they act, so if I ever went there I would know what to respect a little bit more.”

Shahriari said besides exposing his students to culture, another important life lesson can be learned from the class.

“The idea is to give them some idea the world has a lot to offer,” he said. “That (students) don’t just end up getting out of school, sitting in their little cubicles, in front of their computers, and then going home and watching TV and watching the Discovery Channel, dreaming of going to Paris or going to Turkey, or wherever.

“I want them to think, ‘I can go to these places, I can learn about that stuff on the Discovery Channel if I really have the desire to do it.'”

In addition to classes based on musical culture, the School of Music offers instructional classes in areas such as folk guitar, piano and voice.

“George Bachmann is the guitar teacher, and he can get somebody who has never picked up a guitar before (to be) finger-picking songs by the end of the class,” Shahriari said. “That’s one of the things, as far as American culture in general goes, is that everybody feels that (they can’t sing or play an instrument).

“Everybody can sing. It’s just you have to have the confidence to do it. You may not make a living out of it, but you can at least enjoy it and have it be a part of your life,” he said.

Contact performing arts reporter Jenna Gerling at [email protected].


Some music classes and their course numbers offered for non-music majors:


• 22111- Understanding Music

• 22121- Music as a World Phenomenon (diversity class)

Music history:

• 42161- History of Jazz

• 42111- African Music and Cultures

• 42131- America’s Music



• 17011- Piano for Non-music

• 17012- Piano for Non-music



• 47311- Voice Class (no audition)


• 47012- Folk Guitar Class 1

• 47013- Folk Guitar Class 2 (pre-requisite)

Source: Thomas Janson, assistant director and professor of music.