I’ve always liked Jazz, from the moment I first heard it. In fact, probably before I even knew I had heard it because if I remember correctly my first exposure to it was in the theme music of some late-50’s to mid-60’s TV shows. It wasn’t until years later than I realized so many of the shows I watched used Jazz or Jazz-style music for their intros and theme music.
But I’ve never known why I liked Jazz, apart from just enjoying the sound. I’ve heard people more educated than I discuss the aspects and nuances of Jazz and various Jazz artists, but I could not offer anything of substance to the conversation aside from, “I like Jazz.”
Several weeks ago I became aware of EDX, an organization offering online courses, for credit or simply to audit, from universities around the world. Here’s how they describe themselves:
EdX offers interactive online classes and MOOCs from the world’s best universities. Online courses from MITx, HarvardX, BerkeleyX, UTx and many other universities. Topics include biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, finance, electronics, engineering, food and nutrition, history, humanities, law, literature, math, medicine, music, philosophy, physics, science, statistics and more. EdX is a non-profit online initiative created by founding partners Harvard and MIT.
Looking over their courseware, I discovered that the University of Texas at Austin was offering a “Jazz Appreciation” course and I signed up to audit the course. The first class was last week and it was great! They provide course transcripts, videos, interactive lessons, samples of specific Jazz, forums for discussing Jazz, and connectivity through Twitter for “office hours” with the course’s professors. The course last 10 weeks with 1 lesson a week and requires 3-5 hours a week of the student’s time. At the end I’ll get a nice certificate, but what is more important to me is the expanded knowledge I’ll have gained about something I’ve long had an interest in from university level professors and educational experts, all for a cost no greater than my time.
Man I love the Internet!
I’ve also registered for “Principles of Written English” offered by the University of California, Berkeley that just began and “The Science of Everyday Thinking” offered by the University of Queensland, Australia that begins in March. I would encourage you to take a look at the course offerings and see if there’s a subject you have an interest in. They also offer “for credit” courses if you have the money to spend. But if you just want to expand your knowledge about a subject, this is a great way to do so.