professor
Michael Eisenberg

May 2013

He’s a nice guy, but he’s trying too hard. He’s a pianist, so he knows music very well--and beyond that, not much else. We learned almost nothing because he didn’t know how to teach with the readings: he basically just repeated the book and then talked a lot about musical jargon that no non-musicians understood. I appreciated his knowledge, but gave up trying to follow along pretty quickly. Eisenberg often talks for twice as long as he needs to, and this definitely adds up; we got out of class 5-10 minutes late almost every day, and class was already supposed to end at 7:30. He does the same thing with assignments, writing overly wordy and confusing essay prompts and vocabulary IDs that are hard to study. His midterm/finals were a little ridiculous: Music Hum was my most difficult final. This should just not be allowed to happen. The second half of the class was all student presentations and guest performances. He prepared us for the final not at all, and the same goes for the other assignments. We also got no comments on our midterms, which meant that we were pretty much on our own for the final (he didn't prepare us and the book is your only hope). I want to give him credit for really wanting to do well. But the truth is, if I knew what I was getting into, I would have immediately switched sections. Music Hum was my only Core dud.

May 2013

You know how there are those professors who are really unorganized but their class is still phenomenal and you learn a lot? Michael Eisenberg is not one of those professors. He's very smart and very talented, but his music hum class was literally the least organized class I have ever taken at Columbia. He would assign readings from the book, but all we would do in class was analyze little snippets of songs or have in class performers. I think he demanded too much from us in the sense that he wanted us to be able to analyze music, but most of us did not have any kind of background in music and were unfamiliar with music theory. What was really irritating was that the exams tested the stuff from the book (more historical context type things) but we hardly ever even went over it in class. The final was the most poorly designed test I've ever taken. He gives you 4 cds of music to memorize and be able to identify by ear, in addition to four short essays, and vocab (he gave us over 120 possible words, 50 appear on the test, and you only have to answer 25). If you can switch out, DO IT, but if you can't you'll survive. Just do well on the concert reports and participate a lot, he'll think whatever you say is profound.

May 2013

Eisenberg is very knowledgeable, I will give him that. However as a teacher, he is EXTREMELY unorganized and I felt that he expected too much music theory knowledge. It was not uncommon to receive several emails over the span of a few minutes correcting information. We barely followed the text and the majority of the second half of the semester was in class presentations or performances that did not help prepare for the final at all. That being said, grading is pretty lenient if you follow the rubrics closely (use sheet music for the reports if you can read music, it helps a lot). If you can switch out of this section, do it, but if not it's tolerable.

Dec 2011

I really liked Professor Eisenberg. Despite his overall frazzled-ness he is a really smart guy who knows SO much about music, and he's an accomplished pianist, so he could always play examples for us on the spot which I don't think every Music Hum professor does. Maybe it was just my class, but we had great discussions and he was always really encouraging, everyone's comments were always "profound" even if they weren't, but a lot of the time they were! He was an interesting grader; he really wants you analyze the performances deeply and seems to know when you're BSing. He might be really disorganized and discombobulated, but if you look past that he's a great guy and a great teacher. He got everyone in our class talking, which I think is the most important part of a core class.