Campus, News

CFA prof. is no ‘mean Mr. Mustard’

In addition to the writing essays and reading textbooks, College of Arts and Sciences senior Analuz Vizarretea puts on her headphones each night when it comes time to do his homework, and listens to ‘Hey Jude,’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Here Comes the Sun.”

‘It’s quite amusing to say that part of my homework is to listen to The Beatles,’ Vizarretea said.

Listening to Beatles classics may sound more like entertainment than homework, but for Boston University students taking Music of The Beatles, a College of Fine Arts course, listening and studying are actually pretty much the same thing.

The three-credit course, designed specifically for non-music majors, does not fulfill any requirements for CFA but ‘the music majors sneak in anyways,’ CFA Professor Jeremy Yudkin, who teaches the course, said. Yudkin, a teenager in London during 60s, witnessed the emergence of Beatles-mania firsthand and designed the course to bypass Beatles culture and instead focus strictly on their music.

‘The course is not about their love lives, their daily movements, their business disagreements, their homes, their groupies or anything like that,’ he said. ‘It’s about the music.’

Although the class is made up of mostly seniors, Yudkin said it is not simply a fun way to cruise through their last semester.

‘This is very serious, and I expect them to do a lot of work,’ he said. ‘However, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.’

Yudkin said he still devotes some class time to the politics in England and the United States, such as the post-war balance of power between the two countries.

‘The music of The Beatles is a perfect entr’eacute;e into that type of material,’ he said.

Musicology Department Chair Victor Coehlo said although BU was late to incorporate its pop culture program, which now includes classes on funk as well as non-western world pop culture, it is ‘moving ahead quite rapidly.’

‘I came in as chairman in 2006, and one of my goals was to develop pop culture classes,’ Coehlo, who is also the associate provost for undergraduate education, said.

Yudkin said he is thrilled that non-music majors can take the course.

‘I am passionately committed to the idea that music is for everybody, not just for specialists,’ he said.

College of Communication senior Ellie Bibas said he likes that the class’s sole focus is the music rather the hysteria surrounding the band.

‘A few decades ago, people used to crowd around a radio for hours and try to make out some music from a bunch of static,’ he said. ‘People were just listening harder because they had to.’

Bilbas said he likes listening to actual records.

‘For this class, we have to approach it the old way,’ Bibas said. ‘[We] just devote time listening to the records, and I think that’s really cool.’

CFA senior Crystal Chen said the coursework is useful for her career aspirations.

‘My goal is to work at a record label,’ she said. ‘The class is helpful in viewing the industry from a pop perspective, especially how record companies have changed from the Beatles’ time to now.’

Yudkin said it’s his responsibility to show students the deeper meaning behind music including intellectual and emotional content.

‘A university’s job is to get deeper into something and understand what’s behind the surface,’ he said. ‘This applies to particle physics, and just as much, it applies to the music of The Beatles.’

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