Rock on! UNO professor teaches rock 'n' roll class to University College students

December 12, 2000

Michelle Moore, contributing writer

Legendary musician Bob Seger's not the only one who likes "Old Time Rock and Roll." Professor Randall Couch's new University College class, A History of Rock 'n' Roll, doesn't just soothe the soul, but enlightens students about this music genre's place in American culture. The course is designed to teach students about the evolution of rock 'n' roll, the formation of other styles of music that influenced rock 'n' roll and the business aspects of rock 'n' roll.

Couch got the idea for this course when he was a graduate student at Rutgers College in 1995. A few years later, Couch visited University College and suggested the course to its faculty. Couch said teaching at Tulane was a great idea.

"Teaching the course was a way for me to make extra money, since I was a part-time instructor at UNO. I also feel that teaching at two universities is a good connection," Couch said.

Couch worked with rock musicians for nearly 15 years, so he has experience with a broad range of topics on the history of rock 'n' roll music. Some topics include the evolution of country-western and rhythm and blues, soul music of the 1960s, punk rock, technology of the radio and phonograph, the record industry and the emergence of record companies and their founders.

Students are generally enthusiastic about learning the history of rockso enthusiastic that one student brought his guitar to class. Some students find the class fascinating because of the interesting topics and the nature of the class.

"I love it! The class is centered on rock 'n' roll in the 1950s and how it came to be an offspring of rhythm and blues," Linda Holmes, University College senior, said. Christine Petry, another University College student, expressed her genuine interest in the class. "Well, I am very interested in rock 'n' roll, and I find rock 'n' roll music fascinating. The class is very informative. We talk about censorship, how rock 'n' roll originated and the blues artists that influenced rock 'n' roll."

Students' enthusiasm about the class reflects their previous understanding of rock 'n' roll music. Couch explained that most students come to class with their own knowledge of rock 'n' roll. "I taught this class at three different universities, and every person knows a thousand things about rock 'n' roll that I don't," he said.

Couch expects his students to increase their awareness of rock 'n' roll musicnot only of its history but its place in American popular culture.

"This is not just a music appreciation class. Rock is part of our culture and it is part of growing up in America," he said. Couch teaches A History of Rock 'n' Roll once a week. The course is two hours long, and it is offered every semester. Next semester, Couch will teach the course at the Elmwood campus on Mondays and Wednesdays.

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