A Talk with Evening Credit Instructor, Ruth Opara
Programs: Evening Credit
Ruth Opara is an Ethnomusicology PhD candidate in CU Boulder’s College of Music. She recently sat down with Continuing Education to share insights about her fall Appreciation of Music course (MUEL 1832) offered through the Evening Credit program, and what she loves about teaching evening classes.
What makes the Evening Credit program different for students?
The program gives students more choice. I’ve talked to students who have trouble switching classes or balancing their schedule. Evening classes allow students to work according to their own schedule and gives them space to do other things in the morning. Professionals can work during the day and come to class in the evening, relax and enjoy. Prospective students can use this medium to explore classes and understand what college is all about before diving it. It is an affordable way to explore college.
What do you love most about your Appreciation of Music evening class?
I enjoy what I do. I am an international student myself; I come from Nigeria. I love teaching this class because it helps me to share world cultures through music. I get to expose students to new sounds and new definitions of music. Music is fun! We learn substantive material in the class, but we also mix academics with fun.
I also learn a lot in this class because it is open to everyone (not just music majors). I meet students from different departments all over campus; they share their musical passions, which gives me an opportunity to teach to what students like and to offer an in-depth analysis of that music. My students also bring their own perspectives and experiences, which expose me to new ideas and music. It is fascinating.
Your evening class is offered in a hybrid format. What do think of teaching and learning in this mixed online and on-campus format?
I like it because we have lots of material to cover. The hybrid format allows students with diverse experiences to engage with the material in person as a group and then online by themselves. I can introduce music in class, but then students can sit with the material and explore it on their own time online.
This class is very participatory in both mediums. We have a textbook and supplementary materials for readings and discussion. I give the students songs to analyze each week. Students write essays that analyze the history and function of music in specific cultures and summarize what they look for when they listen to the music. At the end of the semester, they present on their favorite music and explain why it exists and how it functions in specific cultures. There are so many surprises and fun throughout the semester.
Do you have any advice for students interested in evening classes?
Give it a try it. You still get the credit you need whether you are looking to make up credit or get into a degree program. Evening classes are convenient and relaxing and they give you time to do everything you need and want to do, and you get to meet other interesting people.
I would also tell you that if you do what you’re supposed to do—your homework and class participation—and don’t procrastinate, you will do well both in my class and in college.
Tell us a little about your own studies and the subject of your dissertation.
I hope to graduate this academic year. My dissertation is focused on women’s musical traditions in Africa. I am examining a group of married Nigerian women musicians—primarily farmers—to understand how their musical practices impact their daily lives and their roles as women and “mothers.” Too often, African women are defined in one of two ways, as victims or heroes. Neither definition does women justice because they don’t account for the many complexities and nuances in women’s lives. I am pushing against this notion in my research.
Learn more about Ruth’s Appreciation of Music class and how to enroll on the course page.