By Jake Huffcutt —
University of Wisconsin–Stout has a long tradition of being a university known for its exceptional creative, art-oriented programs and now a new one is joining the mix: the Performing Arts Minor.
Although the minor is becoming a reality later this year, the idea of having a program focusing on music and theater has been floating around for the past few years in the department that included Communication Studies, Foreign Languages and the Performing Arts.
Last year Paul Calenberg, a department chair and current theater director, decided that he wanted to finally start a minor as part of his three-year term as department chair. Most of the work organizing the minor started last year, with the workload divided between the four different professors in the minor, including Calenberg, Jennifer Sansfacon, Aaron Durst and Jerry Hui.
A new curriculum has been made for the new minor, and many new classes have been added. The only two classes that were present before the creation of this minor were Music in Our World and Honors Jazz History. Some of the new classes include Special Topics in Music, Music Theory and Stagecraft, among many others.
This program should be exceptionally useful for Entertainment Design students, as it focuses on many narratives elements. For example, the new Digital Sound Studio course is a class designed to be very technical: it deals with how to use sound in a storytelling setting, whether that be in film, video games or animation.
The minor will also provide benefits for retail, business and construction workers as well. One of the classes being offered is Music in Media, which focuses on the basic concepts of music theory and how it’s used in films, video games and commercial spaces. This course will be useful to any student wishing to know how they can use music to its fullest in storytelling and marketing.
Another class in development that will be advantageous to students who like to work three-dimensionally will be Theater Design, which will focus on the physical and design aspects of stagecraft.
Choral Activities Director Hui believes that the strongest aspect of this minor will be that anyone who is passionate about learning about music will have a path to continue what they’re passionate about.
Hui said, “A lot of students studying here decided to focus on their major and not do anything else, even though in high school they’ve been in choir or in band or on stage for a large amount of time.”
Studies have also shown that having a creative outlet outside of one’s major is hugely beneficial, and students are encouraged to explore the advantages of this.
Indeed most of the students currently signed up for the minor are not in an art or a design major already, instead coming from areas ranging from psychology to early childhood development. Plus, as an added incentive, most of the courses in the minor satisfy the Arts and Humanities general requirement.
Mostly though, Hui hopes that students become involved with the minor if they’re curious about learning more about music or theater. “These courses are for students to learn about music or theater,” Hui said, and then added, “because it’s just fun.”