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Guitar lessons program sees changes

staff writer

Published: Thursday, January 16, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 16, 2014 00:01

Guitar lessons

Nick Carpenter photo

Nathan Hauck practices as he waits for a game lesson in the Fine Arts Building.


Changes were made that limit the number of people to which guitar majors can give lessons.

For more than 20 years, USU students of any major could take private and group guitar lessons offered through the music department. To give students majoring in guitar performance experience in teaching private guitar lessons, those who have advanced far enough in the program are allowed to teach non-majors.

But last year, this became a concern of the music school’s accreditation organization, the National Association of Schools of Music. Questions were raised as to whether undergraduate students were qualified to be teaching other students.

“We had so many non-majors taking lessons that we were giving a bunch of those students to the guitar majors to teach,” said Corey Christiansen, the director of guitar studies at USU. “And they felt that it was a little strange to have so many students without bachelor’s degrees — even though they are very qualified to teach lessons — giving lessons for credit.”

To satisfy the accreditation requirements while still providing guitar majors with the opportunity, changes were made last semester, reducing the number of non-majors a student is assigned to teach to one per semester.

“So we were basically able to make the argument that the students, as part of their training, should be able to teach for credit … It’s kind of like an internship,” Christiansen said.

This change, however, did not limit availability to non-majors. According to Christiansen, the hiring of three adjunct professors who assist in teaching private lessons made for a smooth transition instead.

“We fixed it in the first semester, so it worked out perfectly,” he said.

For Matthew Thamphya, a senior majoring in guitar performance, what sets USU’s guitar program apart from other schools is the students-teaching-students approach.

“You can probably go anywhere in the U.S., and to say that to have undergrads teaching other undergrads is kind of out of the question,” Thamphya said. “It’s just something that we’re lucky to have here.”

Christiansen said after spending time at other universities looking at their curriculums, he feels the pedagogy programs designed by his father, program founder Michael Christiansen, are unique to USU.

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