Class Review: Expressive Cultures: Prague Music Field Study

When choosing my classes for my semester abroad, I knew I wanted to take at least one class that was unique to Prague and would allow me to experience the city in a way I never would have otherwise. I was always interested in the arts, with music and dance being some of my most significant extracurriculars throughout high school. Therefore, it only seemed natural to me to choose a music-related class, especially because I knew that the Prague music scene was so vibrant.

Expressive Cultures: Prague Music Field Study is a class of seven people that fulfills the CAS Expressive Cultures Requirement. Many of the people in the class are music majors, and work closely with our Professor (who is also the Music Program Director at NYU Prague) outside of this class. This does impact the dynamic of the class, as many of the other students have a deeper knowledge of music than I do. However, this is not a roadblock- Professor Ackerman makes all the content incredibly understandable and accessible and is committed to developing a relationship with each student and providing useful individual feedback. He is also a very knowledgeable musician whose passion for music and art is evident in what he does, which definitely makes the class even more engaging!

The class is mainly centered on a few concerts we attend throughout the semester, including a jazz concert performed by Professor Ackerman’s trio, a symphony orchestra concert, and an opera. Before each of these concerts is a preparation period of familiarizing ourselves with the genre and specific pieces performed, and after is a reflection or paper of some kind. We also have a lot of freedom to explore our own relationships with music, art, and our surroundings through many projects and exercises throughout the semester. The syllabus is also quite flexible, so we often go on architecture or sound walks around Prague, or anything else that strikes Professor Ackerman’s fancy that day!

While there is a sizable amount of work involved with the class, it has been a great opportunity to meet people I might not have otherwise met (especially as a non-music major!), see some free shows, and truly get to experience an important part of Prague culture. Moreover, the work put into the class is rewarding, as it not only enhances my understanding of everything I am experiencing, but also causes me to rethink the role music plays in my life and the world around me. If you are a music lover, or just want to make the most out of your experience at NYU Prague, this class is a must-take!

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