Olaf Post

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Jan 2008

Laugh with (or at) Olaf Post’s understated humor and you’ll be entertained while you struggle to differentiate between Haydn’s Symphony no. 95 in A minor and Mozart’s Symphony no. 40 in G minor—don’t forget to name the movement (Second? Fourth? Perhaps there’s only one…). Even if you’ve read the material and listened to the music, a generally manageable task and worthwhile considering the periodic pop quizzes, the pieces will muddle together after a while, particularly those of the baroque period. Fortunately, Professor Post brings in multiple guest performers to enliven the material, and while the musicians are entertaining the look on Olaf’s face as he revels in a pianist’s rendition of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” is priceless. He loves his field but understands not everyone is equally excited about music theory and so tries his best to elucidate the material from both a technical and artistic perspective. While students without a musical background may struggle with some aspects of music that come with practice (i.e. distinguishing between major and minor keys) and, hence, which Olaf will have trouble conveying, his lessons are approachable by the experienced and inexperienced alike. Tests can include a couple of absurd details from the text but Olaf grades on his own scale that tends to mitigate the difficulty. Such details slip my memory soon after the exam but I have a new appreciation for the instrumental music that now rolls through Party Shuffle on my iTunes. I even add some to playlists.

May 2006

Olaf takes music hum really seriously. Which means that you will take it very seriously, because he makes you work for the class. While other Columbia students will brag about their easy A+s and midterms with questions like "what is your favorite song and why?", you will be memorizing songs, composers, and useless vocab from the reading. He makes you really work for the class, very often in excessive, unnecessary ways. However, the nice thing is that you will finish the class actually knowing something about music. Even though I found myself continually cursing Olaf during midterms and finals, I am glad I actually got something out of the class. Plus, Olaf is funny, nice, and an amazing pianist, so the day to day isn't that painful.

May 2006

Oh Olaf Olaf! How do I love thee? How do I also not love thee? Olaf has a sweet smile, a magnetic personality, and a wicked sense of humor. That being said, he is probably not the best instructor if you have no musical background. I spent the entire semester feeling completely lost; so did many other students. He tries too hard to incorporate a lot of technical knowledge into a class that's supposed to be geared towards people who don't have the necessary background. At the same time, class was always entertaining. So I can't wholeheartedly recommend him, unless you're already a musician in which case you'll be like a fish in water. But I certainly can't give him a bad review because the force of his personality almost made up for the frustrating elements of the class. Basically, if you want a unique music hum experience, take his class, but not if you care a great deal about grades.

Dec 2005

He is an instructor -- seriously. What I mean by that is he is serious and passionate about his subject and doesn't compromise on you learning the techniques of music. That said, he is very available to help you learn whatever you are having trouble with. Get your papers in on time-- he aggressively deducts points for beng late. Even though he smiles a lot, and will speak to you about a wide variety of things outside of class, he is really no nonsense. Speak in class. He really appreciates class participation. Attendance and participation is 20% of your grade. Read your book but more importantly listen to the assigned pieces before going to class because he will challenge what you have to say if you try to fake your way through it and listen to the pieces 3-4 times before the tests. Make sure you know your different elements of music styles for each period. His tests are short so you do not have a lot of room to mess up. You either know all the concepts or you don't and suffer the consequences. He does grade on a curve which can help. Outside of class he is an enjoyable person to speak to but don't expect that to influence your grade. I just took the final so I do not know my grade yet.