Perfection. Wow, what a class. You are really blessed if you have him.
If you Have Josh you have won the Music Hum lottery. He is awesome. Josh not only taught us perfectly all the facts and information of any music humanities course but did so with amazingly in depth conversation and analysis that was largely discussion driven and student based. We discussed topics outside the traditional music hum syllabus such as the implications of including a specific piece or style in the syllabus and what exactly the "great works" are and how they came to be considered as such. He constantly challenged and made us consider our framework and vantage point in music hum and more broadly within the core, and Columbia in general. While we were learning the basics of music theory it also felt like we were having important and fascinating conversations about people,society, history, and our perception of them. All of my other friends found Music Hum to be fine and doable but altogether underwhelming -- my class turned out to be one of my favorite thus far. Assignments were extremely clear, his expectations and the information we needed to know were all given precisely. I had never had any prior experience in music, and he managed to both teach me all that I needed to know with ease while not boring some of the more experienced students. He's also just funny and super cool.
I had written a much longer and better review of Josh last semester, but somehow it got lost or maybe I just never hit submit. In any case, Josh is the professor you want for Music Hum. He is very understanding that many of us have no musical experience, and that many of us could not care less about meter or instrumentation before taking this class. With that in mind, he tries to make Music Hum entertaining and engaging for everyone without placing too much stress on us as students. He is more than clear in explaining everything, and will tell you when he is not too sure about something. When you come out of Music Hum, if anything, you will likely have an appreciation or greater appreciation for classical and even non-classical music. Even though it was his first semester teaching, the readings were very appropriate and the assignments were incredibly reasonable. Seriously, for quizzes and even the final, he prepared a study guide for us! That’s how much he wants you to learn. That being said, if you're a super music whiz who has been playing the piano or violin for years, you might find him boring, as he will likely explain things you know or can already pick up on. However, Josh is also very good about asking you about more specific questions (musical key, technique, etc) and then he builds off that for the rest of the class. There are unknown and known listenings, some listening assignments, the trip to the Met, essays, etc. like every Music Hum class. But all in all, if you’re looking for an engaging teacher who will make learning all this Music Hum stuff worth your time, Josh is the professor you want. If you manage to get him as your prof, don’t switch out! He is so worth it.
A fabulous teacher, I recommend him wholeheartedly. At first, I was a bit concerned since it was his first time teaching Music Humanities. But Josh is a very down to earth, yet passionate teacher, and is clearly interested in helping all of us learn to love Western art music. Almost every class was interesting and engaging, and Josh always helped us better understand not only the music but the context of the music -- what sort of changes occurred both in society and in the music that make what we're studying worthwhile. He was also careful to clue us into controversies that surrounded the music, like the modern reactions to Wagner's antisemitism or contemporary reactions to Bach's Grosse Fuge. All in all the class was enjoyable and a lot more than I expected from the first time teaching a course. I have been in some train wreck classes where the teacher was passionate, but disorganized to the point that it made the course unenjoyable. This was not one of them. The class was clearly organized and Josh was passionate about the material. There were some kinks or complaints -- but I expect that they will be worked out for next semester. The main complaint I have was is that the syllabus had no schedule for readings or listening assignments, and instead they were given to us two or three days in advance by email. Josh later admitted that he was planning the course as he went, so kudos to him for consistently selecting good readings that helped us ground the music we listen to. Hopefully he will keep most of the material and give a reading schedule for the coming semesters. As far as workload, typically there were two or three readings for class, given to us in a PDF format. The book that is usually assigned for Music Hum was not necessary. There were about four or five listening assignments, two essays, three quizzes and a final. All very straightforward. Josh is clear in what he wants you to know and will go the extra step to make it as easy as possible for you to succeed, even going so far as to make study guides for us! In all, he really, really wants you to succeed in music hum. His class was always a joy and I always looked forward to it. Josh is the teacher to get for music hum, if at all possible. If you have his section, don't give it up! Even if the time is at 8:40.