Written by Craig Schreiner | Photos by Craig Schreiner
In WHY I TEACH, Jeff Herriott, professor of music, blends a love of artistic discovery with a love of working with students.
“Igor Stravinsky was the first composer whose music I heard as a kid that blew me away,” said Herriott. “I didn’t realize music could be like that.”
That kind of creative energy fills Herriott, who teaches contemporary composition, electronic music and sound design, and a course called “Sound and Image.” The latter, he said, focuses on sound and music in media — primarily as a storytelling device in film, but also television and video games. The class also equips students with the skills to understand how media uses sound to manipulate thoughts and feelings. That class is a general education course, open to students from across the campus.
“Ultimately, I like making art, and a lot of the art I’m interested in is experimental in nature, which lends itself to being a part of academia. I didn’t particularly pursue a career in academia – I just wanted to be able to make the music I wanted to make. At the same time, I wanted to be involved in work that I think has meaning and value. I love working with students, in particular when we get to focus on analysis of artwork or when I’m helping them make their own work.”
“There is no one typical student. One of the things that I love is how each person is different. This is especially clear to me in my composition classes, in which I work with individuals on their projects. Seeing and hearing what they come up with will never cease to be amazing and surprising.”
“Hearing a great piece of music, reading a great paper of a film I’ve never seen, the games that students make in the MAGD program and show at our Expo — these are the things that make it worthwhile. At last year’s MAGD Expo, students submitted a game that my daughter and I played for probably 10-12 hours over the course of a couple of weeks. She enjoyed the game so much that I wrote the students who made it, and they added a couple more levels!”
WHY I TEACH is a series about the dedicated professionals at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, including professors, coaches, advisors and other staff members, who make every day a teachable moment — and every place a learning place — by their expertise and example.