Gail Archer

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Apr 2021

If you're a STEM student looking for an easy A in a humanities course this ** MIGHT ** be it. You will be writing some essays, doing some research. But it's actually interesting and Gail really wants to help. Some professors aren't made for teaching — Gail is not one of these teachers! She is so sweet, so wholesome, honestly what a f*cking GEM! Nobody deserves this woman except her 25-year-old turtle that she promised to one day bring to class for us. Overall, this lady wants to help you learn. Put in an ounce of effort, come listen to some nice music, it's a worthwhile class. I bet it's pretty boring for real music majors though, it's a decently easy class overall.

Jan 2021

Gail is simply the best!! This course is easy and fun, and she does not waste anyone's time. It's only one hour (8-9pm) despite saying 8-9:30 on SSOL, and the entire time is spent singing. She really loves what she does and cares deeply about making her students happy. I never leave choir without a smile. She's totally fine with absences too. Just show up when you can, sing, and have a good time. Gail 100% deserves a gold nugget.

Dec 2020

Gail is extremely passionate about what she does, you can tell that music is her life-calling. Though other people have said that she can come off as condescending in class, I don't really agree. Her tone and teaching method are right for some and can be annoying to others, but overall, if you are interested in early music, you will learn so much in this class.

Apr 2017

While Gail seems to have many great reviews on this site, this review is specifically for the Chamber Singers class, which might one of the most boring, unrewarding, and frustrating choir experiences I've ever had. First of all, auditions are not required for the choir. At first, this might seem like a good idea, but since the group is so small, one or two bad singers can really ruin the choir's sound, and it did. The levels of musicality among students varied so widely that it was usually impossible to have a decent musical or educational experience in the class. Second, beware that the style of music changes each semester. My semester happened to feature very dissonant, contemporary music that was both aesthetically hard to adjust to and difficult to sing. Meanwhile, the choir next semester sang strictly baroque music, if I remember right. Either way, each semester can be a completely different experience just based on the music selection Third, many people seem to say that Gail is a musical genius, which might be true. In my class, however, the only thing that shone through was her ability to sightread. What a frustrating experience. She was clearly never prepared for our class and consistently played wrong notes and rhythms for us, making our learning of the music way more time-consuming than it needed to be. Unfortunately, I can't say many good things about this class, so if you really want a fun, enriching choir experience, consider taking something else, even if it's with her. If anything, the larger Chorus class seems like a great alternative.

May 2013

This woman needs a gold nugget. What a delightful, engaging, funny, and intelligent professor. As someone with a little bit of experience playing an instrument, I recognized a fair amount of the terms and composers we discussed, but Prof Archer's comprehensive overview of music from classical, romantic, and contemporary classical music was really enjoyable and I learned so much. Her lectures involve some music listening and looking at scores (you would probably take more away from this if you read music, but it's definitely not necessary for the course) which kept them entertaining. She is such an incredibly passionate and kind woman and you can tell that she loves what she does and she loves music. Easily one of the best professors I have taken classes with and a truly wonderful class.

Jul 2010

I couldn't say enough good things about Gail and the choir. Rarely have I met a person who is more devoted to her career, her students, music and life in general. Always bubbly, extremely knowledgable and able to draw out a nice sound from her choir, Gail does what is needed to make a quality choir with intensely busy students. Her semi-relaxed philosophy when it comes to attendance and practice time seems a little bit too lax, but after listening to her explain her methods, they make perfect sense. She's relaxed and always pleasant because it gets more people to join, and we always pull it off wonderfully when the concert comes around. As an outlet for the experienced and unexperienced alike, I fully recommend the choir to everyone (guys especially - we need more of you!). As another reviewer said, we are a family, and we'll welcome you with open arms.

Jan 2009

Gail is fantastic. The choir is like a family - she loves us all, and it shows in her treatment of the group. She picks great music, is very patient with the choir as we learn the pieces, and always has some insight to offer in any situation. She arranges to feed us once a month - we get lasagna and salad and bond as a choir. There's a lot of student leadership, and she always encourages us to get involved. There is absolutely no reason for you to not take this class. Trust me.

Dec 2007

Prof. Archer is great. She's extremely enthusiastic about the subject, and will keep you awake even through the more boring parts of music history. Her lectures are full of facts but you don't really need to know that much for the final. DO go to class, though, because that's where all of the information is coming from. Don't bother buying the textbook, because you'll never need it. She's a very fair grader, but the listening quizzes are TERRIBLE. Some advice: only take the spring semester- unless Gregorian chants fascinate you, you won't like the fall semester.

Oct 2007

I found the subject to be extremely boring, but Prof Archer's great. She's very enthusiastic and LOVES what she teaches. The papers are OK, but the listening tests are pretty difficult, so make sure you don't leave them till the last minute like I did. Overall, if music before 1750 interests you, definitely take this class with her.

Feb 2007

Gail Archer is such a passionate and well educated woman. If you give a little, she will give back a lot. The material isn't the most interesting (even for Music Majors, such as myself) but listening to her lecture makes the class that much better because of her enthusiasm. She's infectious!

Feb 2007

I thought Archer was great- very enthusiastic, you can easily tell she loves her job. While it was a large class and she did not know many of the students by name, it was still interesting. She assigns reading and listening each week, but you don't need to do the reading (she writes really good notes up on the board, and that's what you'll ultimately end up using to study for the exam). There are three listening quizzes (definitely not as bad as they sound, you just need to study for them), and three papers (what she wants out of the papers is usually unclear, but you are required to turn a draft into the writing fellows before you give her your final copy, and they usually clear things up). Be careful on the final- she hands out a review sheet and says it is "pretty much" everything- there were definitely words/terms included that were not on the review sheet, and surprise sections of the test we didn't know about in advance. Overall, a pretty good class, and not too difficult to do well in. I would, however, have found it difficult (and know people who did) if I did not have extensive music background.

Mar 2006

Though Professor Archer is a little annoying in the way she lectures (she speaks certain words slowly, as if you were a 3rd grader), she really is out for everyone's best interest. She was totally fair in the way she graded my papers, and as long as you listen to the assigned pieces, the Final should be no problem at all. I admit though, the class wasn't what I expected it to be, but it's a great class to just get an A in.

Dec 2004

the class is not the most interesting but she truly enjoys the subject . she is veryu enthusiastic, at times seen as humorous- but dont laugh she isnt kidding. shes very nice and very fair- she wants the students to do well.

Dec 2003

Columbia has the potential to have one of the finest choirs of any school in the country. We're in New York! There should be plenty of singers to choose from. Sadly, we don't, primarily because the choir is not ballanced. There is no effort to recruit male voices. Most guys don't even know we exist because the choir does not get very much publicity or exposure. Furthermore, with all those GS students on campus who've sung professionally (i.e. Broadway), we could be fantastic. But no one tries to reach out to them, and get them to join. Gail is a gifted musician who is very caring about music. However, she is not practicle in terms of recruiting talanted voices. Christ, NYU has a better choir than Columbia. I still love choir, and think Gail is great. However, there is room for improvement.

Jan 2003

All I have to say is, I only wish I can be as passionate about whatever field I choose to pursue as Gail is about classical music. I only wish there were more guys in the choir so we could sound a little more balanced in terms of voice range. But she's found ways to work around it, and the end product has never disappointed.

Jan 2003

OK, for all you whiny people who complain about how condescending Gail is and how she talks to the class like she would to kindergarteners, look closer. that's not condescension. that's her OWN almost childlike awe for the music and the stories behind it. and in a school full of jaded, "smarter-than-thou" profs, Gail's enthusiasm is incredibly refreshing.

Jan 2003

Those reviewers who are so enthusiastic about Gail are to be admired. After two semesters of her choir, I have given up in complete hopelessness (she was on leave between the two, or it would have happened sooner). The choir is decent, I guess, but two hours twice a week is way too long to spend in the same room as Gail. She is so patronizing, and all she can EVER talk about is herself. If you're into spending too much time listening to a (not so brilliant) diva gush about how wonderful she is and too little time singing, take this class... Otherwise, steer clear!

Sep 2002

I, too, found that she spoke to the class as if we were in kindergarten. Go with Boerger, she is just a smart and a lot more interesting.

Feb 2002

Excuse me?? didn't anyone find prof. archer intensely irritating? she is one of the main reasons i DIDN'T major in music! the thought of having her as an advisor made me want to transfer! or die! or both!!! she was NEVER at her office hours-- i can't begin to describe to you the number of hours i spent sitting around outside her office waiting for her. she is arrogant and not funny. choir rehearsals were painful, as she would sing most of the passages in order to provide an "example" of how we should sound. AAAAAAArg!

Dec 2001

Gail is the most amazing professor at Barnard -- at Columbia -- in the Ivy League -- in America -- in the world! I love her! She is musically brilliant *AND* loves what she is doing. She has been a musician all of her life and is currently one of New York's premier Baroque organists. She is on her way to becoming famous, but she is still incredibly down-to-earth and compassionate. She cares sooooooo much about her chorus and is constantly thinking of ways to improve the program -- not that it needs it. She gets her kids to sound fabulous, and the Candlelight Concerts in December are lovely.

Dec 2001

This woman is a goddess. She is incredibly enthusiastic about both the music and her students.

Oct 2001

A brilliant and enthusiastic professor who genuinely cares about both her students and the material she teaches. She has a bachelor's, two master's, a Ph.D., and is working on her Artist's Diploma, so you can be sure she knows her stuff. As accomplished and well-read as she is, however, she's a loving mom who "adopts" the students that come to visit her during office hours and is happy to talk to you about anything whether or not it's related to the course itself. I give her four stars.

May 2001

Musically, the woman is brilliant. She can get a great sound out of the chorus in no time, and her love for the music is infectious. However, I take issue with some of the organizational quirks of the chorus. For example, she always hires "professional" soloists rather than taking them from within the chorus. Some of these soloists are actually pretty bad, and there are usually about five people in each section who could do a better job. Similarly, why use an orchestra from the Manhattan School of Music when you could easily contract a Columbia orchestra? Such actions would increase the chorus's prominence on the Columbia campus; right now few people know it exists. One other thing I find annoying: she is constantly advertising her organ performances, even ones as distant as Boston and Phoenix, and then after each one, she can't resist telling us all how wonderfully it went. I'm glad you had fun, Gail, but really, who cares? Overall, these are minor quibbles when you think about what a fantastic conductor she is; I just wish she'd run things a little differently.

Apr 2001

Extremely enthusiastic teacher who talks on and on in class. Sometimes, her high enthusiasm can drain your energy because she's too excited about some of the things she says. Her passion for music really motivates you to appreciate classical music though. The only problem is she only gives you one exam (the final), which means that you basically have to cram every single information she has lectured on for the final. Good notetaking is a MUST.