The Hatchet’s guide to art classes at GW

Whether you’re an experienced artist, actor or musician or just starting out and need to fulfill that creative GCR (general curriculum requirement), there’s an arts class for you at GW.

Best Fine Arts Classes

Photography:
Whether you’ve dabbled in photography before or have no clue how to point a camera, you should check out the photography classes offered at GW. Assignments have rules and boundaries but there is huge room for artistic freedom. Taking photography gives you an excuse to wander around D.C. and capture subjects and scenery that you find inspiring and beautiful. The lab equipment is surprisingly exceptional and the faculty has always been helpful and available. At the end of the course, your top pictures will have to be cut and mounted, which means instant wall art for your own room. The only downside is that the course is a big time commitment and can be expensive after lab fees, but when you’re already shelling out fifty-grand for this school, another two-hundred won’t seem like a lot.

Digital Art/New Media:
The new “it” factor that employers are looking for is a potential worker’s knowledge of computer software and web design capabilities. This new course at GW focuses not only on how to expand your designing vocabulary but also teaches you step by step the faucets of computer programs and how to best utilize their tools. Bit-mapping, vector graphics and digital sound and imaging are some of the creative topics covered in this course. Despite being a crafty skill for future employers, discovering digital art is a great way to organize and reinvent your artistic capabilities. Jeff Stephanic is an extremely knowledgeable professor in the graphics field and an instrument worth tapping into to.
-Shannon Toher

Best Theatre Classes

Performance arts GCRs scare you to death? No need. Try registering for “Introduction to Acting (for non-majors).” This three-credit class introduces its students to the rudiments of acting through the use of well-known texts by famous teachers (i.e. Stella Adler and Uta Hagan) as well as beginner acting exercises. Improvisation is used heavily to help students become more comfortable with the stage, as well as to help students develop characters and learn to shape their talents. Intro to Acting teachers understand that not everyone has had experience, and they tailor their grading systems accordingly. But be forewarned – although this class is a beginner course, and is less demanding than an advanced theatre class – there is real homework. It takes work to develop the skills taught in class – so, if you think “Intro to Acting” is easy street, you might be in for a surprise.

Taking your theatre arts education one step further comes the intermediate level course, “Theatre Criticism” taught by the The Washington Post’s top theatre critic, Peter Marks. This writing intensive class includes trips to many theatres in the D.C. area with a reporter’s notebook in hand. If you’re looking for a good way to discover D.C. theatre, as well as try your hand at journalism, Professor Marks’ class is a must. Marks’ class lectures are exciting, and with experience like his, students can learn what it’s truly like to be theatre critic.

Think you can handle more? Are you anxious to figure out what the theatre department is really all about? Sign up for “Basics of Production Design (TRDA 130).” A class that encompasses introductions to costume design, set design, and lighting design, this course is not for the faint of heart. Requirements for this course go well beyond the classroom, including a three-hour lab once a week (totaling 39 hours by the end of the semester), as well as a tech crew assignment (expect anywhere from five to forty hours), which makes getting through this monster of a course all the more challenging. However, you will reap the benefits of getting to know the ins-and-outs the theatre department, as well as have the opportunity to try your hand at non-performance aspects of the theatre. Sign up, and be prepared to work.
-Caitlin DeMerlis

Best Music Classes

For Jazz:
One of the best jazz classes the music department at GW has to offer isn’t actually a class at all- the Friday afternoon jazz jam session. There’s no grading, credits earned, or audition required and anyone who wants to can sit in with the jazz faculty and other jazz students to play. If you’d rather just sit and listen, that’s cool too. The jam starts at 12:00 noon in the basement of Phillips Hall in B-120 and lasts until 2:00 p.m., with the phenomenal jazz faculty playing for the first half-hour. After showing off your jazz chops, the faculty will happily offer any advice or critique of your playing if you like.

For Ensembles:
The GW music department hosts music ensembles for just about every type of music. With everything from classical string ensembles, brass and woodwind ensembles, percussion, guitar, electronic music, Latin music, big-band and small combo jazz ensembles, there’s something for everyone. An audition is usually required to join, but groups are offered for all levels of players. Also, private instruction is offered as a class for one or two credits on any instrument, including voice, whether you’re just starting out on a new instrument or have been playing all your life.
-Brendan Polmer

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