professor
Maja S Cerar

Jan 2015

Maja is a really nice person, but she isn't the greatest teacher. She isn't the loudest person, so she has to compete with the NYC sounds outside of Dodge. Her explanations in class aren't extremely clear, but not horrible to follow along with. She doesn't allow much discussion in class at all, and at least in my class the few kids that talked kind of engaged in a fancy pancy pissing contest. The blog posts, ten of which you have to post to the class blog, are kind of stupid, just busywork in my opinion. And the papers weren't that great. One was a cross-Core paper, which was not my favorite. We had to write it about super medieval stuff, and lot of my favorite stuff in the Core is of more recent history. The concert and opera papers also involved a lot of BS on my part. I wish she'd just ask us to write about our experiences at the events. The only period of music where I felt she wasn't on top of her game was jazz, which I personally enjoy. We did get three or four live performances during class from our classmates, a choir, and a jazz ensemble, which was really nice. One day she brought in her violin and played, which was awesome! I wish she did that more often. Where you'll actually learn something in this class is in the textbook, which actually is pretty nice to read. You can find it for free online as a PDF and rent the CD's from the bookstore (saves $$$). Overall, I wouldn't necessarily recommend her, but you have her by chance, just read the book and listen to the music, and you'll be fine.

Dec 2014

Easily the worst professor I've had at Columbia. She is an incredibly poor teacher who does not know how to convey information well. She writes terms on the board without explaining them and expects students to get something out of watching an opera for half of a class. The only reason I know anything (and it's not that much )about music from this class is because of the textbook, which she often contradicts. Also, in terms of finals and midterms, her fixation of definitions is insane. It's not only that she wants students to know over one hundred definitions but also she expects students to explain a simple concept in paragraph form. Finally, her thinking that students learn anything from a course blog is absurd. People just post whatever they want to do the required 10 blog posts. In sum, DO NOT take her as a professor.

Dec 2012

Professor Cerar did an incredibly poor job of communicating anything worth knowing in this course. She often spent an entire class on a tangent, never addressing the topic we were actually supposed to cover. Her notes on the board seem to be placed at random and make no sense, making it impossible to take notes. In the middle of a sentence, she might write down one of the words she has just used, and expect that one written word to make all the difference to her poorly constructed lesson plan (assuming she even makes lesson plans). If attendance weren't mandatory, who knows if I ever would have shown up, since I often felt like I wasn't gaining anything from her lectures and could have easily learned what I needed to know for the midterm/final just by staying home and reading the assigned readings. For the midterm and final, she gave us a study sheet that included 140 vocab words (some of which included words that are impossible to define or to use in the context of a composition, such as "octave" and "scale") that were clearly copied and pasted from some online music dictionary, and told us that of the 140 words, 8 would appear on the tests. Plain and simple, she's a bad teacher. The only time I ever learned anything in the class was when reading the textbook or when the TA would take over for a class period. If you can, switch out.

Dec 2012

Maja, like the other reviewer mentioned, clearly cares about the well-being and interests of her students. The only problem is that this doesn't always translate to her teaching style, which at times can feel disjointed and vaguely non-sequitur. It was often unclear what her expectations were for various things (papers, midterms, etc) and even though she is rather generous as a grader, it was always difficult to discern where the grades came from and what they were based on, which made it a little difficult to cater to her style. She covers the basic material necessary, but not in a way that evokes any particular interest or deeper understanding; it certainly feels like an obligatory course. If you happen to get her for Music Hum, it's not the end of the world; you won't have a very difficult time in the class, but you might find yourself uninspired more often than not.

May 2010

Maja is a really nice person who clearly loves the field she's working in but as far as teaching goes she has more than a few kinks to iron out. Even when she seems to have a good grasp of the material (which is most of the time) she usually has trouble passing it on to her students in a clear way. Her writings on the board reflect this and are usually disjointed and not really worth copying into your notebook. That being said she is always open to questions during class or office hours which is a plus. Overall if you get her for this class it's not the end of the world as it's a pretty easy class anyway and she shows you lots of videos to make the time go by faster.