Two new courses to start this school year

The 2020-2021 school year will be the first for Digital Photography and Music Theory


Camille Talarczyk

Two new courses, Digital Photography and Music Theory, will start this school year.

This school year, SHS is offering two new courses to students: Digital Photography and Music Theory. The classes allow for students to explore and learn new skills in more depth. 

Amelia Hernandez, graphic arts teacher, intends for Digital Photography to give students more hands on experience with cameras.

“The goal is to get people comfortable with a DSLR camera and really learning beyond autofocus and getting into the manual settings,” Hernandez said. 

Hernandez says there will need to be a lot of maneuvering when it comes to figuring out which students will need a camera and which can use their smartphones as a temporary substitute.

“We’re still hoping to give people as much hands on time with cameras as possible,” Hernandez said. “But at least at the beginning of the semester, there is going to be more focus on composition. Luckily, we live in a time where you can take really amazing photos with a smartphone.”

The SEED Foundation provided new camera equipment for the class which Hernandez feels will open up more opportunities for students.

“We’ve been really lucky to be getting new equipment and we’ll really be able to still give students those opportunities even though we’re not all on campus,” Hernandez said. “I think we’ll have enough that we can sort of divide it up so everybody has at least a certain amount of time with a camera.”

Jaaron Langford, senior, cannot wait to get started. Langford has been practicing photography outside of school and joined the class as a way to strengthen his skills.

[As I’m] getting back into photography, learning the basics on a deeper ground really appealed to me,

— Jaaron Langford, senior

“[As I’m] getting back into photography, learning the basics on a deeper ground really appealed to me,” Langford said. “I’m excited about the class.”

Music Theory, on the other hand, gives students more of an opportunity to learn the basic musical structures and the foundation of music throughout history. Karen Frink, orchestra director and Music Theory teacher, hopes the class helps students improve as performers and in their composition or improvisation skills.

“Any time you have a better understanding of how music is put together it helps you with those things, you know, whether it’s classical music or other types of music,” Frink said. “A lot of kids who write their own music or do their own stuff like on guitar [or] piano, music theory really helps you with that to understand what you’re doing.”

Previously, AP Music Theory was offered at Shorewood. The course was only a semester long with some difficult course material.

“I tried to teach AP Music Theory in one semester, and that was a mistake. It’s a really really difficult subject, and it involves lots of different aspects. You have to not only understand how to read written music and analyze it, but you also have to be able to do the oral component,” Frink said. “So in one semester I wasn’t able to get into some of the more difficult aspects of AP Music Theory”.

This course hopes to act like the first semester of AP Music Theory, covering some basic topics, but not overwhelming students with material. 

“What I decided to do here was experiment and see how many kids would be interested in just a basic music theory class,” Frink said. “So my hope is that in one semester, it would be like the first semester of an AP class. I won’t get into some of the really really difficult stuff.”

Zoe Kirn, junior, looks forward to learning a little bit more about the science behind the music she plays.

“[I want] a better understanding of music because I guess I can play it, but understanding how it works and why composers do stuff would be cool –– kind of like analyzing music,” Kirn said. “I really just took this class because I thought it might be fun to learn something new.”

However, in the future Frink hopes to expand the curriculum allowing students to choose either a one semester or full year course. For those interested in covering the whole AP Music Theory, they could take the full year, while other students could just take the first semester. 

My hope is that next year I can offer AP Music Theory,

— Karen Frink, Music Theory teacher and orchestra director

“My hope is that next year I can offer AP Music Theory, and so what it would be is anybody who wants just basic music theory would take first semester, and if kids want to continue they would do the whole year,” Frink said. “That would be how I would love to set up for class, but I couldn’t get approved for AP this year.”

Frink is looking forward to teaching about a subject that she has always been passionate about. 

“I’m very excited,” Frink said. “It’s a subject that I always enjoyed mostly because of my piano teacher all through middle school and high school, she really emphasized it with me and then I really enjoyed theory in college.”