Every semester, I try to take one random elective, a class that doesn’t fulfill any sort or requirement for my degree but just seems interesting. These classes have ranged from Housing & Homelessness in the United States to the Communications Revolution to Engineering Design Visualization, Graphics, & Fundamentals of CAD.
This semester, I’m taking a class called Jazz History, mostly because it sounded interesting, but also because it was described as being one of the “chillest” classes at Hopkins. As the semester (rather alarmingly) draws to a close, I can confidently say that both of these have proved to be true.
The semester started with the early origins of Jazz, going back to the slave trade and early 19th century New Orleans, and we have followed the development of the genre all the way up to the present day. Before this class, I didn’t realize that there were so many different subclassifications within the genre and more than that, there are even multiple types of “bop,” (bebop, hard bop, post bop).
As far as grading goes, the class might be one of the most relaxed courses I’ve ever taken. Our professor actually works at Peabody and comes to Homewood to teach this course on Mondays and Wednesdays and it is clear that he is teaching this because he genuinely loves the material. We’ve had online quizzes for each decade covered, a midterm, and a handful of listening quizzes (one of which I’m studying for while writing this very blog!)
In addition to the more traditional assessments, another sizable chunk of our grade is attending and writing reviews for live jazz events in Baltimore. Apparently Baltimore is a hub for jazz, so having an academic incentive to go check out some events has been really cool. Back in September, my friend Katy and I went to a concert at the Baltimore Creative Alliance in Patterson, a really cool arts space that I otherwise wouldn’t have found, and this past weekend, my friend Charwat and I attended a jazz piano concert at An Die Musik, a venue devoted exclusively to jazz in Mt. Vernon.
While I am fairly accustomed to “hands-on learning” as an engineering student, this class has taken that concept in a whole different direction and has become one of my favorite classes I’ve taken at Hopkins.