Expand AU Menu

Courses & Workshops

Please note child-friendly or teen-friendly sessions marked with asterisk * and detailed in descriptions below.

*Behind the White Cube, Juliet Bellow, Ximena Varela
*History of Audio Recording, Paul Oehlers, Matt Boerum
*Putting the Play in Playwriting, Caleen Jennings
*Why I Hate Brahms, Marc Medwin, Ann Kang, Nancy Snider
The Art of the Performing Arts Deal, Andrew Taylor
*Big Kids @Katzen, Sharon Wolpoff
A Day in the Life of an Ethnomusicologist, Shalini Ayyagari

*Think outside the Xbox, Yana Sakellion
*Open Rehearsals in the Dance Studio, Christopher Morgan
The Art of Conducting, Yaniv Dinur
Not to Be E-Raced, Zoe Charlton, Sybil Roberts
*Giving Voice to the Silenced, Gail Humphries Mardirosian
*History of Audio Recording, Paul Oehlers, Matt Boerum
Curatorial Practice Practice Practice, Jack Rasmussen
*Creativity & Interruption, Don Kimes
*Drawing in the Italian Renaissance, Joanne Allen
Making Sweet Music, Matthew Heap
Mastery of the Moment, Marc Medwin, Melanie George
Free the People with Music, Sybil Roberts
Inside the Auction & Behind the Gavel, Jack Rasmussen


Session 1

Matt Boerum, Paul Oehlers
Audio tech faculty Matt Boerum & Paul Oehlers.

*The Hidden Life of Museums

Ever wondered what happens behind the scenes to make a museum function? In this class led by professors Juliet Bellow and Ximena Varela you will learn about all of the inner workings of the museum as an institution: how collections are formed and hung; the planning and execution of exhibitions; mechanisms for maintaining and restoring artworks; and what happens on the commercial side, from fundraising to the gift shop. This class is appropriate for all ages.


*History of Audio Recording

Travel through history with Paul Oehlers and Matt Boerum to see how recordings were made, from the earliest recording techniques and devices developed by Thomas Edison to the latest digital recording software! This class is appropriate for all ages.


Caleen Jennings
Theatre professor Caleen Jennings.

*Putting the Play in Playwriting

In this interactive workshop led by professor and playwright Caleen Jennings participants will explore and use the playwright's tools. Participants are encouraged (but not required) to see the performance of Steamystery, playing at the Katzen Arts Center just prior to this workshop. This class is appropriate for children ages 10 and up.


*Why I Hate Brahms

Music professor Marc Medwin takes particular delight in maligning the works of the great Johannes Brahms. In a witty, good-natured, and informative presentation, professor Medwin discusses what it is he doesn't like about Brahms and why, while fellow professors Ann Kang (piano) and Nancy Snider (cello), "argue" their case by performing the first movement of Brahms's Sonata No. 1 in E Minor, OP. 38. Excerpts from work will provide musical examples pro and con from the sure to be lively discussion! Q and A will follow. Appropriate for children ages 8 and older


Shalini Ayyagari
                 Music professor Shalini Ayyagari.

The Art of the Performing Arts Deal

Long before you buy a ticket to see a touring performing artist or show, an artist manager and the presenting venue had to hammer out a deal. Take a peek inside this negotiation, and take a seat at the table yourself in a hands-on negotiation game. Professor Andrew Taylor, a national expert on the business of arts and culture, will share insights on how artists and venues strike the deal, and how the same negotiation techniques can extend your success elsewhere.


A Day in the Life of an Ethnomusicologist

What does an ethnomusicologist do? What do music, community action, and the desert have to do with each other? These questions and more will be answered by professor Shalini Ayyagari, as she discusses her experiences conducting fieldwork among a community of hereditary musicians in the Thar Desert region on the India-Pakistan border.


*Big Kids @Katzen

Do you want to get messy, use your imagination and learn about art? Become a Big Kid @ the Katzen! Investigate the pleasures of collage-making firsthand with artist Sharon Wolpoff, as she leads you through a special creative project. Experience the grown-up version of American University's Kids @ the Katzen, a unique art program for children which distinguishes itself by featuring an artist whose work is currently on display in the Art Museum. No experience necessary and we will provide you with all supplies and an apron. Appropriate for all ages.



Back to top

Session 2

Yana Sakellion
Graphic design professor Yana Sakellion.

*Think outside the Xbox:
Designing for Future Interactions

Xbox Kinect is a popular game controller developed by Microsoft; it is a simple USB video camera, which can detect and gather real-time 3D data of objects and people in its range. Originally intended for the Xbox 360 video game console, this gadget can now be used with some Interactive/Graphic Design software application. This class with graphic design professor Yana Sakellion will lake you behind the scenes of gesture-based interactive Design experiments, and invite you to become an active participant in testing them out! Appropriate for children ages 10 and older.


Open Rehearsals in the Dance Studio

Join an interactive open rehearsal with artistic director Christopher Morgan and dancers of the American University Dance Company (AU/DC). Participants will have the opportunity to learn original dance phrases created during the session, then see that material transformed by the student dancers.


Yaniv Dinur
Orchestral Director Yaniv Dinur conducting in the Katzen Rotunda.

The Art of Conducting

What is the role of an orchestral conductor? Can't the orchestra play without one? How can a certain gesture affect the orchestra's sound? AU Director of Orchestral Activities Yaniv Dinur will explore these questions using video and live demonstrations. At the end of the session, participants will be offered the opportunity to conduct the AU Chamber Orchestra.


Not to be E-Raced: The Representation of African-American Women in Performance

This lecture/demonstration will discuss race, gender, and African-American women in American women in performance and visual arts using two works from the early twentieth century. Zoe Charlton will present a short animated feature adapted from the 1934 film classic Imitation of Life, and Sybil Roberts will present a short scene from Zora Neale Hurston's Color Struck to facilitate a discussion of race, gender and representation through both a historical and contemporary lens to assess just how far we have come, or have yet to go, in considering all the possibilities of the "black" woman's body on stage.



I Never Saw Another Butterfly
I Never Saw Another Butterfly performance; photo: Katie O'Hare.

*Giving Voice to the Silenced:
Theatre for Social Justice

This course with Gail Humphries Mardirosian will involve performance, dialogue, and interactive exercises originating in recent AU student performances focused on the Nazi transit camp of Terezin. After beginning with a segment presented in Prague this summer from the drama Signs of Life, we will invite non-threatening audience participation in a dramatization of a camp teenager's now famous poem, "I Never Saw Another Butterfly," and conclude with discussion about theatre furthering difficult dialogue around sensitive issues of social justice. Appropriate for teens (though not younger children).


*History of Audio Recording

Travel through history with Paul Oehlers and Matt Boerum to see how recordings were made, from the earliest recording techniques and devices developed by Thomas Edison to the latest digital recording software! This class is appropriate for all ages.


J.J. McCracken Fruit for Geophages, 2012
From Green Acres: J.J. McCracken, Fruit for Geophages, 2012.

Curatorial Practice Practice Practice

Using the museum as the classroom, join American University Museum director and curator Jack Rasmussen as he parts the curatorial veil around the Rothfeld Collection of Contemporary Israeli Art; Green Acres: Artists Farming Fields, Greenhouses, and Abandoned Lots; and Patrick McDonough: brightveridiansentinelevents.




Session 3

Don Kimes
Art Professor Don Kimes; photo: Benjamin Hoste.

*Creativity & Interruption: The Only People Who Get Any Place Interesting Are the Ones Who Get Lost

Henry David Thoreau once stated "Every creative event that ever happened in the history of the world was an interruption. Unexpected. Unplanned for. The only people who ever get any place interesting are the ones who get lost." Artist, author, professor, and former longtime visual arts chair Don Kimes will be presenting his paintings and discussing the role of interruption as a catalyst for the creative process, incorporating the visual arts, music and his experiences living and working among the ancient ruins of Italy. This class is appropriate for all ages.


*Drawing in the Italian Renaissance

Ever wondered how a Renaissance masterpiece was created? How did a composition evolve from initial concept to finished work? How was a drawn design converted to a full-scale fresco? This class will introduce the methods and materials of Italian Renaissance drawing. After a short illustrated talk by Joanne Allen, you will learn the technique of charcoal pouncing and take home your own handmade copy of a favorite work of art. Appropriate for children over the age of 12 (use of sharp implements).


Melanie George
Dance director Melanie George.

Making Sweet Music: How to Compose a Good Melody

Led by music professor Matthew Heap, this session will introduce the basics of writing a good melody. We will look at some examples from famous pieces, take them apart to see what makes them tick, and then create our own. At the end of the session, you will have the chance to hear your melody performed by live musicians from AU's music faculty.


Mastery of the Moment:
Exploring Improvisation in Jazz Music and Dance

Jazz music and jazz dance are united by the multifarious art of improvisation. Using a combination of important recordings from jazz's history and live demonstrations, dance director Melanie George and music professor Marc Medwin will present important improvisational concepts that jazz music and dance developed in tandem. We will explore stylistic reference, quotation, and the changing vocabularies of movement and sound to show the progression from entertainment toward art and artistic freedom.


Sybil Roberts
Playwright Sybil Roberts.

Free the People with Music:
The Reggae Aesthetic in Theatre

This lecture/demonstration with playwright Sybil Roberts will illustrate the power of the reggae aesthetic by presenting a live ten minute play and a brief discussion of the reggae aesthetic and its historical development. Adult themes.


Inside the Auction & Behind the Gavel

Get up close and personal with the artists and curator of Fall for the Arts 2013: Exhibition and Auction. Find out whose art moves you and why, make a strategy, and then go for it! All this while the Bidder's Lounge loosens your inhibitions and your pocketbook. If you didn’t have an art collection before the class, you just might have one after the auction!