Music class is no place for “American Idol”

By Kimberly Marion

Now I know I’ve read it all. The University of North Carolina in Charlotte has added a course to its catalog – a course that a 10-year-old could participate in. UNCC is adding a course titled “American Idol.” No, you did not misread that. It’s true.

The professor who started the class is trying to justify adding this class to the music program, but I am not buying the reasons why this reality show should be considered a springboard for an entire class. Even worse, this sham of a class is worth three credit hours. I am officially offended. I have taken classes that required rigorous work, and they have only been worth one credit hour.

How does watching a reality television show and then predicting a winner constitute a class? That is what everyone does when they watch “American Idol” anyway. I am becoming a teacher and I understand why teachers try to make classes more interesting – but “American Idol” is not the answer.

According to, Jay Grymes, the ingenious man who invented this course, said: “The show can be a springboard for serious discussion about the art of performing music and the craft of critiquing.”

Right – the craft of critiquing. From whom are the students learning this handy-dandy skill? Simon? Are the students going to learn how to say “that was absolutely horrific” in a British accent? Or maybe the students can learn how to say “Wassup, dog” in various octaves. Or the students could think that everyone and everything is just “wonderful and special.” Do not forget to flash that enormous smile and show every tooth – including the wisdom teeth.

This may be a fun course, but what is it that the course is really teaching students? If I am not mistaken, people pay for a college education. The classes they take should lead to earning a degree. What does Clay Aiken or Fantasia Barrino have to do with your career? What can someone possibly learn from such a fluke of a show?

In my opinion, absolutely nothing. The contestants on the show do not compose their own music but sing pop standards and let themselves be made over into a puppet.

Now, it’s likely students will sign up for this class as a “Mickey Mouse” course and see the class as an easy A. The professor also stated that he wanted the students to study the genres that the contestants sing.

Here is an idea. How about designing an entire course on 20th century music genres and listen to the original singers? Why waste time on an overrated karaoke singer?

Want another idea? Instead of just listening to the music, have the students study the words and the songwriters during each decade.

It is upsetting that now our classrooms are reinforcing pop-culture garbage, but as college students, we are not forced to take certain courses (thank goodness).

But regardless, the course is a waste. After all, it’s not even taught by the real experts on contrived reality TV – Kelly Clarkson and Ruben Studdard.

Columns reflect the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the Northern Star staff.