This semester, students can learn what it means to like “real music.”
The Kelly Writers House kicks off its music criticism workshop on Oct. 7. The free workshop is open not only to Penn students, but also to the public at large.
Patrick Rapa, a long-time Philadelphia City Paper writer and music editor, will be teaching the five-week course on how to be a music critic. Up to 12 students will learn how to write reviews on concerts and albums, conduct interviews, acquire a tangible understanding of journalism and develop the necessary skills to write for a publication.
“The goal was to allow students access to writing about music with a professional editor,” Director of Kelly Writers House Jessica Lowenthal said.
The non-credit class was also offered last fall and included some Penn freshmen as well as recent graduates of the school. The application deadline for this fall’s class was Sept. 20. If students continue to show interest in the workshop, however, the class will run again.
“It was an awesome experience — even though it was a class-like environment, it didn’t feel like a traditional class at all,” wrote Amanda Silberling, a sophomore English major who participated in the workshop last fall and voiced her enthusiasm about the class, in an email.
Silberling said she appreciated the fact that Rapa brought professional writers and musicians to speak to students. This, in turn, inspired Silberling to explore the local music community.
“I think that one of the most important takeaways I got from the course was the importance of knowing your scene. I think my favorite part about being at Penn is the fact that we have the entirety of the Philadelphia arts world at our disposal,” she said.
Silberling added that the class helped her grow as a writer because she had to critically analyze artistic choices of bands. She also praised Rapa for his sense of humor.
“[Patrick] is a very funny person, and even some of his writing is comical, so it made the class have a very light atmosphere, which was fun,” she said. “Pat has a lot of passion for music, and it’s infectious — it’s inspiring to see someone talk about a career that they love so much.”
Since he had never taught before, Rapa said he was nervous when he began teaching the course last fall. He stressed that he got involved with the workshop because he wanted to help others with his knowledge and experience and enjoyed teaching the class because of how interested students were.
“It was really wonderful,” he said. “The students were very engaged.”
Rapa added that students seemed to understand what it takes to be a good writer by the end of his workshop. He said music criticism is fun, and that he is always open to discussing questions.
“There is no such thing as a dumb question in my workshop,” he said.
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