The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music education: University of Wisconsin’s Continuing Education offers tempting music courses for seniors by actual “doers” and performers. Some are for FREE, others cost a very reasonable fee. | August 26, 2011

By Jacob Stockinger

It’s that time of the summer again.

Not only do students start thinking about and planning their return to school by the end of this month or the beginning of next month. More and more, schools are also reaching out to non-traditional students and to people who want to take course on-line.

In Wisconsin, residents over 60 can attend courses and lectures for free, with the instructors’ permission, once they fill out a form and “enroll.” That kind of public mission is integral to the Wisconsin Idea that the taxpayers who pay for the university should benefit from the university.

For more information, call 608 262-1156 or visit:

But through the UW Division of Continuing Studies, you can also see many more courses that are available often for nominal fees.

There are also many short courses that retired persons and other adults can take even if they do not lead to a degree.

You can get a catalogue by mail (below) and you can visit the website and see course offerings on line along with instructions about how to enroll:

And look at the course catalog here by clicking under ARTS:

This year especially, I am particularly impressed with the number of “doers” – of actual performers – who are giving those courses. It underscores how very wrong is the old saying about “Those who can do, do; those who can’t, teach.”

I offer some example:

Baroque violinist and performer Edith Hines (below), who performed in both the Madison Early Music Festival and the Boston Early Music Festival, is offering an “Early Music Collegium Musicum” from Sept. 13 to Nov. 8.

Steve Kurr (below top), conductor of the Middleton Community Orchestra (below bottom), is offering a Great Composers Series on Bernstein, Handel, Mahler and Paganini from Sept. 12 to Nov. 7 at Middleton High School.

Composer, singer,  early music performer and new music (NEW MUSE) performer Chiwei (Jerry) Hui (below top and below bottom, back row left, with the early music group Eliza’s Toyes) is offering a course on Gregorian Chant form Sept. 10 to Oct. 29.

And retired Medieval history professor, early music expert and Isthmus music critic John W. Barker (below) — who also writes for this blog — will teach a course on “Music in the Renaissance; Challenging Cultural Stereotypes” from Oct. 4 to Oct 25.

Plus you can find piano lessons, string lessons, choral and voice lessons as well as courses in music theory and even piano tuning. You can also find non-classical music courses and much, much more.

Trust me, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

If you have taken such courses, let us know what you think of them?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music


  1. Throughout the past several years, I have taken some wonderful music classes through UW’s Continuing Studies Department. Although some of these courses and instructors are not available this semester, I can recommend all of them: Handel taught by John Barker; History of Rock and Roll taught by Susan Masino; 2 Broadway courses taught by Leslie Esser-Reitano; 2 piano courses taught by Jonathan Kuuskoski; and several (and ongoing) Great Composer Series courses taught by Steve Kurr. I’ve enjoyed all the courses, and the instructors have been great. I’d recommend that everyone check out the music courses offered. My only regret is that some of the courses I’d like to take are offered on a night which I have a firm conflict.

    Comment by Kathy Lewinski — August 28, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

    • Hi Kathy,
      Thanks for reading and replying.
      Your firsthand testimonial is both welcome and convincing.
      I hope others heed your advice and look into those courses and instructors.
      Nice to hear from you.

      Comment by welltemperedear — August 29, 2011 @ 8:49 am

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